Lankford: The Biden Admin Is Facilitating the Chaos at the Border
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WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK), lead Republican on the Border Management Subcommittee of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee with jurisdiction over the southern border, called out the Biden Administration on the Senate floor about Biden’s wide open southern border that is threatening the security of Americans, particularly those he spoke to last week who live in south Texas. Lankford reiterated that the Biden Administration is working to help people cross our border more efficiently, not securing the border.
Lankford was at the border last week with a delegation of Senate Republicans. Following his trip to the border, Lankford was briefed by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics on the rise of drug trafficking and drug overdoses.
Lankford continues to lead in the Senate to stand up against Biden’s open border policies and lack of law enforcement leadership, which he has discussed directly with border law enforcement agents and officers. Lankford recently spoke on the Senate floor 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 shared his disappointment after the Supreme Court decided to allow the Biden Administration to start rolling back the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), otherwise known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy.
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 followed 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 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, 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.
So, if this body were to look at the tests and the homework, the quizzes and the essays of the Department of Homeland Security and give them a grade based on their performance for the last year and a half, what would the grade be? DHS says they have six missions. They detail out those missions. One of those missions reads, ‘Secure US borders and approaches.’ Then they give this little piece behind it to describe that, ‘the Department of Homeland Security secures the nation's air, land, and sea borders to prevent illegal activity while facilitating lawful travel and trade.’ What would their grade be on that, and is anyone going to hold them to account for their grade? Or is this body going to continue to just ignore what's happening on the southern border. It is the role, it is the task, it is the responsibility of the Department of Homeland Security to help secure our nation, but this Department is currently facilitating illegal immigration, not stopping illegal immigration.
I wish I was wrong on that. But I’m not. In fact, as recent as the last two weeks I’ve met with DHS leadership who describe to me the new method that they've laid out so that you can apply for asylum, come to the United States, and come to any airport in the country, so you wouldn't have to come through the southern border. You'd just come in. But it would be the same process as what's happening on the southern border where people from 150 countries just this year have crossed our border, been checked in by border patrol who know full well they're not legally present here. Then they're released into the country and given eight years until their hearing. Eight years.
And instead of responding to able to slow down the more than 2 million people who have illegally crossed in just the last year, this Administration is actually working to say it's actually not enough people. They're increasing the access points to increase the number of people rather than decrease.
The Administration was proud to be able to say in May and in June the numbers went down slightly from what they were in the previous months. The problem with that is the previous month was a record and so was the month before that. And if you look at just the June number, that was, yes, slightly down from May, it is still the highest June ever recorded by the Administration. We're being overwhelmed with the number of people coming in illegally across our border. The Administration is currently releasing people, and their soul focus seems to be on making illegal immigration more efficient rather than more enforced. What grade would you give DHS? A more specific question, Mr. President, do you want to stop illegal immigration? Because I don't think you do. And I think it's clear the policies that you put in place are directly leading to this record influx of illegal immigration from all over the world.
And, I wish you could even say, ‘Well, at least we vetted them,’ but I know that's not true and so do you. Not a single one of these people entering the country has their criminal background check from the country they're from. We're doing a quick fingerprint analysis to see if they've committed a crime here. But we have no idea the 150 countries-plus they're coming from, because right now the goal is not to check their criminal history; It's to get them released into the country within eight hours. Keep it moving. Keep it moving. You don't want a clog at the border. When they cross the border, the goal is just to keep them moving into the country.
Last weekend, I spent the weekend again at our southern border. Serving on the Homeland Security Committee, I spend a lot of time back and forth across the border to be able to evaluate what's happening now because it changes week to week. I was in the Rio Grande Valley last weekend spending time with CBP, Border Patrol, individuals from Air Marine Operations, from Department of DPS from Texas, from the National Guard—all of them expressing incredible frustration. When I got there last Thursday night late, we went on a midnight patrol with Border Patrol. Literally within minutes we ran into our first group of folks that were coming across the border, a group of teenagers. Minutes later literally while that group is being processed, another group is interdicted coming across the border not far away, this time it was six and seven-year-old children and a couple of families.
While we watched them being processed, they called us on the radio and said about two miles down they just picked up another group. This time it was adults, including one pregnant lady who was deep into her eighth month that was coming across the border to make sure she delivered here in the United States. 150-plus countries just this year crossing the border because it is open.
As I hear Secretary of DHS say they've secured the border, as I just came from the border, I wonder when the President of the United States is actually going to go to the border to be able to see what's actually happening on the border and the policies that have been put in place. Because so far the President has been able to make it to Saudi Arabia, but not able to make it to our southern border to even look once at what's happening on our southern border. If he goes someday, I hope, I hope he meets with Border Patrol because the Border Patrol agents I talked to tell me about a time when the border was secure. They tell me about a time, not long ago, that we had enforceable borders and where the policy wasn't to release within hours and the enforcement priority wasn't to get them moving as fast as possible, it was to actually secure the border.
You could meet with the land owners, like I did last weekend, who live in that area. Some of them have lived there for generations, and they're absolutely furious because though they have lived there and their family for generations, they have never ever experienced this. They tell me about how when they were children, they used to play in this area, and now literally they will not walk out their own door without a firearm on their hip. They told me about multiple vehicles being stolen from their property, from windows being smashed at all hours of the day and night, people walking up to their windows and peering inside.
One rancher told me about his wife who was pregnant and his child who is two, how they literally fear for their lives because of the number of people that are coming across their property and for him, personally, the number of dead bodies that they found on their property just this year. This wasn’t happening before.
And they had a very simple request. Their simple request was, ‘I’m an American. Why does my property not count? Why do my rights not count? The only rights that seem to count are people illegally crossing the border.’ Their rights seem to count, but the rights of Americans do not.
Mr. President, would you be willing to answer his question? Would you be willing to talk to his wife and explain to her why there are bodies on their ranch, and people are peering in their windows at all hours. And they can't live in safety on their own ranch? And that was different just three years ago? Would you be willing to explain to them what has changed in your policies? Because the goal of this Administration seems to be efficient movement of illegal immigration, not stopping illegal immigration.
I met this Monday with leadership from the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics who explained to me the overwhelming amount of methamphetamine that's coming into my state, the number of people that are dying in my state because much of the meth is laced with fentanyl, and it's killing people in my state. And I asked them, ‘Is the meth being cooked in Oklahoma as it used to be?’ And they said, ‘No, we hardly ever find a lab making meth anymore. It's call coming from Mexico. All of it.’ Where Mexican cartels are actively working in my state to distribute methamphetamine, partnering with Chinese groups that are doing not only the supplies but the distribution network in my state.
When I was in the Rio Grande Valley this weekend, individuals with Customs and Border Protection showed me the numbers. Just this year just in the Rio Grande Valley, 144 pounds of fentanyl that's come in. 27,550 pounds of meth that they've interdicted just in the Rio Grande Valley just this year. Let me run that past you again: 27,550 pounds just in that one area just this year.
Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics was explaining to me if you go back to 2020, we didn't have the drugs moving this way because the border was not open at that time. Now the drugs are flooding into our state because the border is open.
What grade would you give the Department of Homeland Security? When they are allowing our country to be flooded with drugs, when they are choosing to make illegal immigration more efficient rather than stopping illegal immigration, what grade would you give them? When is this going to change?
I have to tell you I believe one of the main roles of the Department of Homeland Security is to be able to shut down transnational criminal organizations from functioning inside my state. But instead, just in the Rio Grande Valley when I talked to them this week, just in that one sector, they estimate that the cartels make $153 million a week, $153 million a week just in that area of the Rio Grande Valley moving people across the border illegally because each of them have to pay the cartels. In fact, we saw the wristbands take they all wear, that once they paid the cartels they're marked, that they can actually be moved across the border, they paid their amount. $153 million a week that the Biden Administration is facilitating in payment to transnational criminal organizations just moving people based on a liberal policy of we're going to open the border up to be nice. That policy is facilitating the cartels in Mexico being enriched. They make more a week, a week, in moving people than is the budget for Border Patrol in a year in that area. And that's all being facilitated based on this Administration making it easier to cross the border and more efficient to cross the border than stopping it.
I'm tired of hearing about the number of people that illegally crossed the border and many in this body just ignore it. I'm tired of hearing from the FBI in my state that the price of methamphetamines is going down in my state. Seems like the price of gasoline has soared, the price of food has soared, the price of housing has soared but the price of meth is going down. Why would that be? Because the supply of meth is going up, because it's coming from the cartels in Mexico, and this Administration is just looking the other way.
When is this Administration going to talk to the land owners in south Texas like I did and hear from them the threats that they face? They are American citizens. When does their life matter? It's time we address this issue. It's time we actually step up and say that DHS is failing in its most basic task of securing the nation. It's time we stop the illegal drugs coming into our country and killing our kids. It's time.
And I’m going to continue to come to this floor and to show what the media will not show anymore. They've looked away, and many of my Democrat colleagues have done the same. They just look away like it doesn’t exist while two million people illegally cross the border.
One more stat. Right now, we have somewhere between 4,500 and 8,000 people a day illegally crossing the border. Between 4,500 and 8,000 a day illegally crossing the border. May I remind you, President Obama, years ago, called it a humanitarian crisis when 2,000 people day crossed the border. Now we have between 4,500 and 8,000 a day, day after day after day after day. This Administration is not only opening up the borders, they've also changed the enforcement priorities here in the United States. So we have round numbers, 6,000 people a day illegally entering the country. The Biden Administration has changed the role for ICE in deportations. We're currently allowing 6,000 people a day to cross the border, but we're only deporting 161 people a day from the country. 6,000 a day every day, day after day after day, illegally coming into the country. 161 people now that we're deporting a day.
What would be your grade for DHS in their task of securing the country? I know what mine is. It's time this body actually does something rather than just look away.
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