Lankford Says It’s Time to Fix Our Broken Asylum Process from That Brings Border Crossers into the US
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WASHINGTON, DC – As he prepares to travel to the southern border, Senator James Lankford (R-OK), the lead Republican on the Border Management Subcommittee of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, today spoke in support of a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to dissolve a proposed Biden Administration rule that would illegally upend the process by which the US government grants asylum claims to migrants. Lankford joined Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) and 29 Senators to introduce the resolution in April. The resolution failed to pass in the Senate in a vote of 46 to 48.
Lankford sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on his concerns about efforts to re-implement the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program, known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy for asylum seekers. Lankford has repeatedly asked for information and raised significant questions about whether DHS is following the District Court’s order to resume the program in “good faith.”
Lankford is leading the charge to push back on the Biden Administration’s plans to revoke temporary, pandemic-related Title 42 authority as early as May 23 and to stop the ongoing chaos at the southern border amid Biden’s hypocrisy about COVID. After the highest year on record for illegal crossings this past year and 221,000 encounters of border crossers last month, Lankford introduced the Public Health and Border Security Act to require all COVID-19 related national states of emergency to be lifted before Title 42 is officially terminated until a workable plan to replace it is put in place.
Later on today we’re going to be voting on a Congressional Review Act dealing with the Title 42. Actually, more specifically, the asylum rule dealing with what’s happening at our southwest border right now. Let me first say something I don’t normally say on this floor. I’m pleased the Biden Administration is trying to address this. It is a step that someone in the Administration has noticed there is a problem with the asylum rule, and they are trying to address it. This solution will not fix the problem, but at least we’re working on the problem.
If I can say this to the Biden Administration and to this body—if we do not legislatively fix the asylum rule, what is happening on our southern border will never get better. We have got to address what is the problem there. It is not that there is root causes in Central America. We’re the United States of America. Everyone in the world wants to be here. And if all you have to do is cross the border and say the magic words, ‘I have credible fear,’ and the Biden Administration hands you a piece of paper, and you’re in the country for the next eight years—eight years—until your hearing, the whole world is going to keep coming here.
Now, right now, literally right now, we have 8,000 people a day that are illegally crossing our border—8,000. Last summer in the midst of all the chaos when the all the cameras were focused on our southern border, there were 6,000 people a day illegally crossing the border. It is worse now than it was a year ago, but the cameras have all moved on and said, ‘Nothing to see here,’ when it continues to be able to get worse literally every month.
Last month, a quarter million people illegally crossed the border—a quarter million. Half of those turned away with Title 42 authority which the Biden Administration is trying to end to allow everyone to be able to come across the border. But this asylum rule gives me some sense of hope that they are at least identifying what the problem is and trying to start working on it.
Here’s the problem though, the way that this rule is actually set up, almost every negative determination made under this expedited asylum process gets appealed under the normal process anyway. So while they’re creating an expedited process, all they have to do is say, ‘I disagree with the expedited process,’ and they get through the long, protracted eight-year process anyway. It doesn’t solve the problem.
So while the Executive Branch is trying to do something, their something that they’re doing doesn’t actually fix the issue. We have to change this issue in law.
Secretary Mayorkas was on the Hill two weeks ago. He came and presented the new plan in place for what they’re going to do at the border. Part of that plan was this new asylum rule. But when you read the summary, at the very end of it, they go through all their details, these high-level points of six different areas where they’re going to work to be able to decrease. At the end of it the summary statement ends with, despite our best efforts, we anticipate an increase in migration.
What they’re saying is the policies that they currently have in place are going to continue to increase migration, even with things like this new asylum rule that they’re trying to be able to put in place, because they know this doesn’t actually fix the problem.
MPP, the Remain in Mexico Program that a federal court has required them to maintain that they’re doing MPP only in such a way to say to the federal courts that we’re doing something. We have 8,000 people a day that are illegally crossing the border. We have about 2,000 people a month that they’re putting through the MPP program. We have 8,000 people a day that are illegally crossing the border. Currently ICE is deporting 203 people a day. With 8,000 people a day crossing, 203 people actually being deported, you see the math here.
They’re not trying to stop the flow. They’re not trying to disincentivize this. We need to actually get serious about this. So, yes, I’m going to support a Congressional Review Act on this individual piece because it doesn’t actually fix the problem. Let’s actually sit down and fix the problem actually in statute. That’s what needs to be done.