Lankford Questions CBP on Seizing Drugs, COVID PPE, Test Kits at Border & Praises 11-Year High in Naturalizations

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WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today participated in a hearing of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to provide oversight of the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). Lankford questioned CBP’s Mark Morgan, the Chief Operating Officer and Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Commissioner, on CBP’s work to seize items, including illegal drugs and fake COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) and test kits along our borders and at ports of entry. Lankford also highlighted the 11-year high of newly naturalized citizens to our nation over the last few months and the positive steps in the process of legal immigration as well.


On seizures at the border

(Starts at 00:37 – 01:04) Lankford: I know CBP has been very engaged in seizing fake testing kits, fake medications, fake masks—N95 masks—what’s the status on that, and what are you seeing?

Morgan: Absolutely, sir, and unfortunately every time that there’s a crisis, from a law enforcement perspective, the first thing we get together collectively is we set up a task force because we know that criminals are going to take advantage of it. And COVID-19 has been no exception.

(Starts at 01:34 – 02:32) Lankford. You also made the comment that though the number of individuals illegally crossing the border has decreased—and the apprehensions obviously have been along those same lines as well—the amount of drugs coming into the country has increased per pound. Are you seeing changes in amounts? Are you seeing more meth, more fentanyl, more cocaine? Are there trends that you’re seeing in that as well, so not only total amounts but what I’m looking for is types of drugs as well.

Morgan: Absolutely, so the four hard narcotics, that I call, they’re increasing, and especially from this time last year. I think I said in my opening, methamphetamine for example, just from last month, increased 66 percent. And I think—I’ll get the numbers if I’m off a little bit—but from this time last year, it’s up 20, 30 percent, from this time last year. And what we’re seeing, the cartels do what they do best. They change their tactics and techniques quicker than anything that I’ve ever seen in the history of law enforcement.

On illegal border crossings but also increased naturalizations

(Starts at 06:29 – end) Lankford: The last number that I saw was this fiscal year, which would be October the 1st of last year until the end of May this year, about 276,000 people that had been apprehended that are inadmissible. Those were either at ports of entry or between ports of entry along the southwest border. Does that number seem about right?

Morgan: Yes, it does.

Lankford: So around a quarter-million at this point that we picked up during that time period. That’s a significant decrease from what we’ve seen in the past, but that’s a very large number. I also thought it was interesting as well, I went back to look at the number of people that were given naturalization last year, to be able to just look at the last year that we have a full year of naturalization—833,000 people legally went through the process and were naturalized. That’s an 11-year high. So one of the things that I just want to be able to mention to you is, this Administration has continued to be able to accelerate into legal immigration and naturalization with an 11-year high for the number of people that legally went through the process to be naturalized, but have also been very very focused on declining illegal admission into the country. So just, again, tell your folks, ‘thank you for the work that you continue to do to be able to enforce the law and continue to be able to protect your people. Thank you.

Morgan: Yes, sir, and if I can, thank you for that, and I thanked the Chairman and Ranking Member earlier too. I will take that back, and I can tell you, the men and women out there, when they hear that from their elected leaders, it means something. So I will take that back, sir, thank you.