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Lankford Says Congress Must Come to a Solution on Border Security to Protect Americans

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CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s remarks on Rumble.

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK), lead Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Government Operations and Border Management, encouraged his colleagues on the Senate floor to come to an agreement on solving the border security issues that continue to present a national security crisis on our southern border. 

Lankford remains the lead Republican negotiator in the border security policies for a “supplemental funding bill,” which has previously been discussed to include funding for Israel, Ukraine, and Indo-Pacific as well as funding for what President Biden calls border security. Lankford continues to insist we need real policy changes that fix our broken and exploited asylum and parole processes that have allowed millions of people into the country. 

Late last year, Lankford gave an impassioned speech to the Senate about why we need to solve the crisis at the southern border with real policy changes, not just more money, and to reiterate that he would not support the supplemental funding package offered without border policy changes.

Transcript

There’s been a big conversation in this body that actually matches the conversations happening around the country right now. You ask any random person on the street what are the key issues they’re thinking about right now? Almost every poll that I’ve seen the past several months said people are concerned about the economy, and they’re concerned about border security.

Just about every poll you’ve seen everywhere, that’s been the one and two. Sometimes border security has been the top issue, sometimes it’s been the second issue, but it’s been in the top two over and over again. It’s not just border states, and it’s not just Republicans.

It’s Republicans, Democrats, Independents alike.

They see what’s happening on the border, and they just want to know, ‘what’s the plan?’ because the news comes out in September that last September was the highest numbers of border crossings in the history of the country, for any September. Then October was the highest number of illegal crossings of any October. Then November was the highest number of crossings of any November in our nation’s history. Then December came, and it was not only the highest number of illegal crossings of any December in our history; it was the highest single month ever for any month in our history.

Typically, December is a lower month, but instead it was the highest month in our history, with the highest single day in our history, and an average of 10,000 people a day that illegally crossed the border—right at 300,000 people in a single month. Just to put that in perspective, if I go during the Obama Administration, what we had in December and November exceeded any single year in the Obama Administration. Just those two months. During the early days of the Obama Administration, we had 21,000 people a year that requested asylum. 21,000 people a year that requested asylum on our southern border. We had that in two days in December.

That’s how things have shifted. That’s why this is not a partisan issue. This is a national issue.

People understand the national security implications of this, that we literally have thousands of people crossing the border every day, and we have no idea where they are. They cross the border, I can tell you quickly how. They cross somewhere in the desert in Arizona either through a gap that’s been cut in the fence, or in areas where there is a gap at the fence, and they go around it.

They’re given a couple of different options. One is parole authority, 236 parole, you’re released in the country, take off. There’s another one called a Notice to Appear. You’ll hear the common term NTA, saying there’s so many people crossing right now, we don’t have time to be able to go through the paperwork, so we’re going to give you a piece of paper that says show up at an ICE office, and you can literally go anywhere in the country you want to go.

Go anywhere you want to go in the country, hand in this piece of paper, turn yourself in and, then get a hearing date set after that. Maybe shocking to everyone, not many people are actually showing up at ICE offices and turning themselves in. They’re just disappearing into the country by the hundreds of thousands month after month.

In addition to that, if you come to our ports of entry, and you’re going to do an orderly entry, well, that shifted actually. Since earlier this year, this Administration has started using a parole authority that is termed humanitarian parole, but they’re using it in a way no administration has ever used humanitarian parole in the history of the country.

You see, earlier this year—actually I should say last year now that it’s January—earlier last year this Administration announced to the world that if you will tell us ahead of time that you’re coming, when you come to a port of entry, we will give you a work permit when you arrive—that day. So 1,500 people a day come to their appointment at the port of entry from all over the world. They show up. They’re given a parole document called 212(d), and they’re given a work permit that day and released into the country.

We just ask the question: how does that slow down immigration across the country?

Because parole is actually not a status. Parole is actually listed in our law as a non-status—it’s that you’re actually here. But humanitarian parole was designed for a situation like what we had in Ukraine, or it was designed for a situation where an individual has a funeral that they’ve got to get to, but in their country it takes too long to get a visa and they couldn’t get to the funeral. They get humanitarian parole to be able to get to that funeral. It’s not designed to say, ‘Y’all come.’ It’s not designed to be anyone from anywhere in the world just show up, and I’m going to hand you a work permit when you get here and release you into the country at 1,500 people a day.

Americans see this. This doesn’t make sense to people. They just want to know what are we going to do to get order where there’s chaos. They’re not asking for a political solution. They’re just asking for a solution. This shouldn’t be something that we don’t address here.

For two and a half months now, my colleague Senator Murphy, my colleague Senator Sinema, and a whole bunch of folks around the three of us that are our colleagues in this body and their staff have worked together to try to get to a solution of how can we address this in a bipartisan way.

This body requires bipartisan solutions. We’ve got to have 60. So we’ve got to work on hard issues.

I will tell you the House of Representatives did a very good bill called HR 2 that addressed a lot of issues dealing with immigration, but unfortunately the House didn’t have any Democrats on board. In fact, they didn’t even have all Republicans on board that particular bill. They passed a very comprehensive set of solutions to be able to deal with border security. That’s what they passed. This body’s not passed anything to be able to respond. The House noticed a long time ago this is that needs to be addressed. This body has been allergic to working on how to solve the border crisis.

For the past months we’ve worked in a bipartisan way to hammer out how do we solve this because it can’t be ignored. The worst-case scenario is for Americans to say, ‘Who’s going to do something,’ and for this body to say, ‘Not it.’ We’ve got to come to some solutions.

Some of the issues are obvious. The vast majority of people coming across the border will say, ‘I have fear in my country,’ because the cartels have told them, ‘If you say the magic words, you’ll be released into the country because that puts you on a track for asylum,’ when actually what it does is it puts you into a 10-year backlog of claims that are out there. And people know, if I cross the border and make a statement, I can be in the United States for the next 10 years.

It’s the greatest country in the world. There’s billions of people that would like to be able to be here. That’s a pretty easy entry, to be able to just come across, say the secret word, and you’re in. We’ve got to be able to resolve that. We as a nation should be able to filter through the people that are coming and to identify who actually qualifies for asylum and who is just wanting to come to be a part of the greatest nation in the world. If you want to just come from economic reasons, there’s a way to be able to do that, to go through the legal process.

We allow about a million people a year to legally naturalize into our country. We’re one of the most generous countries in the world in our legal naturalization process. We should continue to be able to do that as we have for decades and decades. But for people that want to game the system, we are lawmakers. Why would we ignore people that are abusing the law?

If we ignore the abuse of the law, what are we doing making law if it’s not going to actually be enforced? So let’s get back to identifying those who actually qualify for asylum and those who are just gaming the system, turn them back around, and to say, ‘Go through the legal process. Don’t run through the desert. Don’t swim across the river. Don’t come to a border agent and lie to them.’ Let’s figure out a legal way to be able to address legal immigration and turn around illegal migration.

We should be able to solve this issue. It’s obvious to everybody. We should be able to bring immediate consequences when someone’s actually violated our law. Currently someone crosses in the border, it may be 10 years before it’s addressed. If we can’t deal with immediate consequences as I’ve heard over and over again from parents and from every individual, a delayed consequence is a non-consequence.

If the consequence is delayed 10 years, that’s not really a consequence, and everyone knows it. So we’ve got to be able to have immediate consequences, and we’ve got to have solutions to this issue about just paroling 1,500 random people from anywhere in the world. If the standard to get into America is literally just fill out a form and tell them that you’re coming first and you’re released into the country with a work permit in a non-status of parole, literally that is an executive authority that can be taken away at any moment.

Literally. The next president comes in, they could waive every single parolee on the next day and it would be legal because parole is not a status. It’s release into a country.

If we can’t figure out how to be able to solve that when the mayors of Chicago and of New York and of Denver are saying, ‘Why is this Administration releasing people into the country between ports of entry and this other parole process or NTA with no work permit and just releasing them by the hundreds of thousands, why is this happening?’ If we can’t answer that question, then we need to able to sit down at the table until we do.

The Senate is where hard things get worked out. This is a hard thing. This is something that’s not been resolved in more than 30 years. I understand we have differences of opinion. So does America. Except in this one issue; they want this solved. America wants a resolution on this.

So I encourage us as a body to keep negotiating, keep working at it. We’re not going to solve everything. We never do. But we need to solve as much as we can because this is one of the biggest issues in the country. And I will tell you this is one of our greatest threats. In the past year, in the flood of people crossing our border, tens of thousands of people that came across our border, this administration declared as a national security risk.

The term they use is Special Interest Alien. Tens of thousands of people that crossed were given that designation, Special Interest Alien, and then released into the country. We have no idea where they are. These were identified at the border as a national security risk. But because we’re not managing our border and we’re overrun with capacity, the option they have is releasing them.

For the sake of our nation’s national security and our future, let’s actually go back to following the law. Let’s actually create a process where when we pass law, we expect it to actually be enforced and to be done.  We can do a hard thing. That’s our job.

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