Lankford Warns 1 Million Illegal Immigrants Could Cross the Southern Border in 6 Weeks If Biden Rescinds Title 42
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WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK), lead Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Government Operations and Border Management, today warned his fellow senators about the dangers of the Biden Administration’s potential plan to end the current Title 42 order within the next two weeks. This Title 42 order allows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to rapidly expel migrants at the southern border, and DHS has expelled over 1.1 million migrants under the authority since Biden took office. Lankford pointed out that the Biden Administration has made it clear that they will simply move migrants into the US interior in droves to reduce the appearance of chaos at the border. This news comes after DHS released numbers showing that the border crisis is still at the highest level in 20 years.
Title 42 is a clause of the 1944 Public Health Services Law that has provided law enforcement at the border the authority to remove illegal immigrants during a public health emergency.
Last year, Lankford successfully blocked President Biden’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office from opening a “surge overflow temporary facility” at the Great Plains Correctional Institution in Hinton, Oklahoma, that would have been used to process migrants who crossed the border illegally and release them into Western Oklahoma. DHS is reportedly considering opening facilities like this throughout the interior of the country after lifting Title 42.
Lankford said he would bring a Congressional Review Act resolution forward to overturn Biden’s attempt to stop Title 42 earlier today. In his remarks about his support for ending the COVID-19 national emergency declaration recently, Lankford said again that revoking the current emergency order under Title 42 would create massive unintended consequences that would make the crisis at the border even worse.
Earlier this year, Lankford went to the US-Mexico border in the Rio Grande Valley sector where he said once again that the Administration still has no plan to secure the border. Lankford discussed Title 42 authority with DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas last May.
There’s a lot going on in the world right now: Ukraine, what’s happening in China, what’s happening with the Iran nuclear conversation right now with Russia, the United States, and China, record inflation here in the United States.
So much going on that I’m concerned that we’re not also focused on an area at our southwest border. It’s interesting, I’ve had folks that have caught me and have said, ‘Things must be going better at our southwest border because don’t hear about it as much.’ Actually, there’s just so much other news that it’s drowning it out.
So what’s actually happening at our southwest border right now, and where are we?
Let me give you a little bit of context, and then to be able to talk through some of the issues happening. Today on our southwest border, about 6,300 people have already illegally crossed. Now, a day that they can manage is about 3,500 people. So we’re still hearing record numbers of people illegally crossing the border.
To set this in context, during the four years of the Trump Presidency, there were 2.4 million people that were encountered illegally crossing the border during the four years of the Trump Presidency. During the first 14 months of the Biden Presidency, we’ve already exceeded that number. We’ve had more illegal encounters in the first 14 months than there was in the previous four years.
In this process of all these individuals crossing the border—it’s been interesting—there was something that was put in place in January of 2020 called Title 42 authority. Now, let me explain this briefly. Because of the pandemic that was happening in March of 2020, the Trump Administration put in place that for single adult individuals that were crossing the border, they would be turned around at the border based on the pandemic that was happening.
The Biden Administration agreed with that policy, and when they came in they kept Title 42 in place. In fact, last year, 1.1 million people were turned around at the border under Title 42 authority. Title 42 authority was always intended to be temporary. It’s not a permanent immigration policy. It’s during the pandemic. Though it is ironic that the Administration is looking to lift Title 42 authority on the border at the same time this month members of the National Guard are being forced to resign if they don’t have their vaccine.
So if you don’t take your vaccine and you’re in the National Guard, you’re being forced out. Or if you’re in the military and you haven’t taken it, you’re being forced to resign the military. But people illegally crossing our border can come into the United States.
At the same month that there’s conversation about dropping the Title 42 authority, we’re still wearing a mask on our planes, in buses, in trains based on requirement of the Administration on a threat to COVID. At the same time that’s occurring, the Administration is looking to lift the Title 42 issues at our southern border.
They’ve had a year to be able to plan for this. And I’ve been in conversations with Aly Mayorkas and DHS. We’ve had multiple conversations with leaders. I’ve been on the border multiple times to be able to talk to leadership there. To say, ‘We’ve all known that at some point Title 42 authority is going away. So when that occurs, what is the plan to deal with illegal immigration,’ or what they call’ irregular migration’?
What is the plan at that point? Well we’re finally getting bits and pieces of the plan. The plan is, apparently, from the notes that we’re getting and the conversations we’ve had on the staff level and that I can piece together from multiple conversations with multiple leaders, after a year of considering what to be able to do about illegal immigration and increasing numbers on the border, apparently within the next couple of weeks they’re going to stop Title 42 and to be able to more rapidly move people into the interior of the country faster so the border looks less chaotic.
The plan is to move people into the country faster so there’s not a camera shot on people backed up at the border.
That’s the plan.
I wish I was kidding on that, but in a briefing with my staff last week, DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis told our team that as soon as they release Title 42, they anticipate tens of thousands of migrants crossing the border within hours, that they’re literally camped up on the south side of the border and that they will flood the border.
DHS Office of Intelligence anticipates hundreds of thousands of migrants crossing within two weeks and as many as a million crossing within six weeks of when they lift Title 42 authority.
May I remind us, last summer when we saw all the chaos on our southern border, that was 900,000 for an entire year. They’re anticipating as many as a million in six weeks illegally crossing our border. And their plan is not to turn them around.
Their plan is to bus them to towns and cities all over the United States so they’d move away from the border quickly.
That does not feel like a plan to me. That feels like a recipe for chaos and frustration from American citizens across the country.
The plan continues to be able to give individuals a piece of paper that they would have a court hearing six years in the future—six years, I wish I was kidding about this. They’ll come across the border, be given a piece of paper, told they have a hearing six years in the future, and if they’d like to apply for a work status, they can get that after they’re here six months.
Last year we had the highest number of illegal crossings in the history of our country last year. And the Administration is now planning for that number to skyrocket this year, and their solution is to give work permits, move people faster to the interior of the country, and repeat.
That’s not a plan. That’s a formula for disaster.
That is individuals and families moving into the country, that don’t have legal status, by the millions. May I remind this body that last year we had individuals from every single country on the planet that were encountered on our border last year illegally crossing. Every single country. Yes, that includes Iran, North Korea, Russia, you name it. Every country on the planet illegally crossed our border. The plan this year is not to turn them around. The plan this year is to expedite them into the interior of the country, hand them a form, and say, ‘Show up at court six years from now, and oh, by the way, while you’re waiting, you can have a work permit.’
That’s going to just drive even more illegal immigration into our country. That’s going to drive people from all over the world to be able to come here and to cross our border illegally. That is an invitation to chaos, and I cannot even believe, even with this Administration, that after a year of planning, this is the plan for what they’re going to do for illegal immigration on our southern border.
Last summer we found out, through a series of rumors, that ICE was planning to put up what they were calling a ‘surge overflow temporary processing facility’ in western Oklahoma at a private prison there. I contacted DHS, confirmed that they were actually planning this, told them the obvious issues with that. There was no bus station in that area. There was no airport in that area. They were literally looking to move thousands of people from the border into western Oklahoma into a small town and just release them at that point. And they can figure out what to do and where to go from there.
The Administration, after 48 hours of our back-and-forth and me pushing, pulled back their plan and said they weren’t going to do it. But I’ve noted their response back to me at the end of that. They said that they had decided not to pursue this facility ‘at this time.’
What was threatened in my state a year ago is very likely coming to many states that are represented in this room in the weeks ahead, where individuals are moved all over the country, into small towns and large towns, to be able to move people away from the border, what even DHS estimates may be a million people in six weeks to every part of the country, so the border doesn’t look chaotic.
Can I ask you, is your town set up to receive people coming from all over the world, to come into your town, a million in a six-week time period?
Interior processing is a terrible idea, Mr. President. It’s a terrible idea. And after a year, DHS can do better than this.
So what do we need to do about this? My Democratic colleagues have a unique relationship with this President. You have the opportunity to be able to call the opportunity, to sit down with the leadership team and to say, ‘This looks like a particularly bad idea. The American people do not like chaos. And they do not like illegal immigration.’ The American people love legal immigration.
We cheer at nationality events. We show up in droves and watch people pledge allegiance to the flag for the first time as an American citizen. But the American people do not like illegal immigration, especially one that is unlimited, chaotic, and from every country in the world.
So I’ve made contact with the Administration. I’m laying this marker down. We’re going to do everything that we possibly can as a team to be able to make it clear that this Administration plans to bring chaos to the United States in the next several months, and we’re going to do everything we can to be able to stop that.
This is not some random threat. The President of the United States has a unique responsibility to enforce the law. That’s what presidents do. And the people in my state are not asking for something odd or peculiar. They’re asking simply for the President of the United States to enforce the law of the United States.
May I remind this body of a statistic you may or may not remember. Last year ICE deported 57,000 people total in a year. We had 2.3 million people illegally encountered at the southern board, and ICE deported 57,000 total in a year. It was a record low number of deportation, and a report high number of illegal crossings.
And now they’re planning to lift Title 42.
All 100 of us should be addressing this Administration and telling them this is a bad idea. And I pray they hear us out. To the President of the United States, just enforce the law.