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Senator Lankford Urges Against a Government Shutdown, Encourages Continued Negotiation

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WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today joined Thom Tills (R-NC) on the Senate floor to advocate for immigration reform that improves border security and fixes the DACA program but urged Senate Democrats against shutting down the government. Lankford has offered a number of solutions for DACA and border security. Last year, he introduced the SUCCEED Act and the SECURE Act and has also been a part of a number of negotiations to find solutions that provide certainty to DACA students and protect the nation’s borders.  


On the government shutdown: 

Senator Tillis and I have come to the floor today because we have some incredible frustration and want to bring some facts out to the conversation. I absolutely grieve for the federal workers in my state and there are some phenomenal people that do an amazing job that most people never know their name but every day they are getting up to serve the American people. They are folks in the military who every day that are serving the American people. The civilians that surround them, though not listed as federal employees, are intimately connected to what we’re doing with the federal task for people. They are trying to figure out this afternoon what’s going to happen to them this weekend and next week. They are frantically getting together in offices all over Oklahoma and all over America trying to piece together the “now what’s” of a government shutdown distracting them from getting all the things done that they already need to be done that they were backlogged on now. For what? This frustration on this whole focus on “let’s do a government shut down over not having to have real discussions about DACA and immigration” is not only not accurate, but it’s also something that is already in process that somehow is being short-circuited. All of these federal workers and all of these civilian employees going through this turmoil trying to figure out why DACA is not resolved and why the deadline for DACA is the first week of March, and why it has to force them to be out and have all this chaos now at the end of January has brought utter confusion to everyone. 

On why border security needs to be part of the DACA fix conversation: 

Because for the last 15 years the DREAM Act has come up before the House and Senate and for 15 years; it has failed every single time. The DREAM Act failed when there was a Democrat Senate, a Democrat president, and a Democrat House of Representatives. That bill is not going to pass. We knew that. So, we went to work saying, “what is a better solution that will provide some semblance of performance on this?”… We want to be able to resolve this, but it has to be resolved with border security attached to it. I didn’t think it was an unreasonable request. I was surprised to hear about it because in the previous “gang of eight” version there was a large section in it about border security. So I assumed this would be a non-issue… It seems irresponsible to deal with the DACA issue and to not address how did that happen in the first place. To say that we have a secure border and we don’t need to address anything would be to ignore 12 million examples in our country of that rule being violated, either through Visa overstays or through coming across the borders of individuals who wanted to be in our country but crossed illegally instead of through the legal process. 

On Congress’s responsibility to resolve DACA:
We cannot deal with the issue of individuals that are in our country illegally, even if we as Americans see them as neighbors, friends, and future citizens of our country and ignore how it happened in the first place. That would not be responsible of us. Now, there are some that want to say this is because you are simply a racist, which is infuriating and inaccurate and belittles the conversation. To stand up and say the only reason you think this is because you are a racist is trying to shut down the conversation, not engage in it. These are my friends and neighbors as well. We’re legislators and we have a responsibility to solve issues, not belittle each other and not make false accusations. There are millions of people that have crossed our border to be able to work or connect with family. I fully understand that. Many of them live around my place, go to church with me. I get that completely. But there are also many people that cross our borders because of crime, and we would be foolish to ignore that reality as well. There are people that cross that border to be able to traffic drugs, to be able to traffic in terrorism, to be able to move people, human trafficking, labor trafficking. We should have a secure border setup for that, again, this used to not be a partisan issue…

Senator Schumer and Senator Obama, and a lot of other Democratic Senators that are still here voted for the Secure Fences Act in 2006 to put in 650 miles of fencing on our southern border because this didn’t use to be a partisan issue, and it shouldn’t be today. Border security is not partisan, it’s national security. The proposals that have come out at times amaze me. Let’s actually get serious about trying to resolve these issues. Basic border security issues should involve not just fencing in some areas, or walls in some areas or technology in some areas, adding additional manpower in other areas, those are reasonable things along the border that every country in the world is organizing, but it also involves dealing with some of the gaps in our law that if someone crosses into the United States things need to be addressed… Let’s do it and get it right. But let’s not shut the government down while we’re in the middle of negotiations because people want to be able to have it their way.