Senator James Lankford (R-OK), lead Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Government Operations and Border Management, voted not to advance Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s bill to provide supplemental foreign aid. Lankford voted no on this version of the bill because he continues to stand firm that any security funding bill must also include funding for US security at our southern border.
The foreign aid bill failed to advance in a vote of 49-51. Now, Lankford and Senate Republicans will continue to work toward a bill that includes the necessary policy changes to secure the southern border. We can’t address the security of other nations while our own border is wide open.
Earlier today, 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 this vote today.
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. This morning, Lankford reiterated on national TV that Republicans will not back down from their calls for significant policy changes to secure the US-Mexico border. Lankford highlighted last month that Senate Republicans released a proposal to secure the border by removing loopholes exploited by the cartels in the current asylum process.
Lankford mentioned in his remarks on the Senate floor today that he previously questioned Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas during the annual “Threats to the Homeland” hearing in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee where Mayorkas admitted the loopholes need to be closed.
Twelve thousand and eighty—It’s not just a random number. This is the highest number of crossings ever in a single day across our southwest border. That’s the record, 12,080. Never had a day more than 12,080 crossing our southwest border. You might ask: what day did we set the number for the most crossings across our southern border, and my answer would be yesterday.
Yesterday was the highest number of illegal crossings in the history of the country. September was the highest September ever in the history of the country for illegal crossings. October was the highest October ever in the United States in the history of illegal crossings. November was the highest November ever in the country in the history of our nation for illegal crossings. And there’s the highest number in the history of the country yesterday.
What’s really happening? The numbers continue to be able to skyrocket. If we look at what’s actually occurring with the number of illegal crossings, they continue to accelerate day after day, month after month unchecked. We face very real threats in our nation, and it’s not just me saying that. People may recognize the FBI Director Christopher Wray, who was asked about the threats we’re facing in the United States after October 7th. He was asking what he saw with that and he said, ’I see blinking red lights everywhere.’ The threat level has gone to another level since October 7th,’ in the United States.
Yesterday, of those 12,080 people that illegally crossed the border, the vast majority of them were released into the country today. They had no criminal background check, they didn’t have to prove their ID of what country they were from because right now the soft-sided facilities that are housing migrants all along our southern border are currently running at 400 percent occupancy, so the goal is get them through and into the country, hand them a piece of paper and literally ask them to promise to turn themselves in in the future at some point. ‘Just go because we need your space, because there’s more people coming.’
At the same time, the FBI Director is saying, ‘I see blinking red lights everywhere.,’ we’re literally releasing thousands of people day after day, no criminal background check, no evaluation of their history, many of them, we don’t even know what country they’re from, and releasing them into the country.
In the last two years, this White House has designated on our southwest border 70,000 people that they designated as what they call Special Interest Aliens. These are individuals coming from areas known for terrorism, but we have no background information on these individuals. What happened to those 70,000 individuals? They were released into our country with a piece of paper saying, ‘Please turn yourself in in the days ahead because we have no room to be able to house you here.’ That’s what’s happening.
Am I the only one that noticed this? Well, let’s see. The Mayor of El Paso has said, ‘The city of El Paso only has so many resources, and we have come to a breaking point right now.’ And the Mayor of New York City has talked about migration. He said, ‘This issue will destroy New York City’ as they are overfull to capacity in every spot that they’ve got. The Mayor of Chicago has called this an ‘international crisis’ that he’s actually experiencing in Chicago to try to be able to manage this. And as the stories come out on this over and over again, this is a New York Times story that came out: ‘Migrant Smuggling is now a $13 billion business. Mangled limbs. Raped women. Congressional inaction is a boon to bad actors—from the New York Times.
So my question is: what are we going to do about this? Currently, it has been nothing.
So what are we going to do about this?
About six weeks ago the White House sent over a request for supplemental funding. They labeled it a national security supplemental. They asked for funding for Israeli, for Ukraine, for the Indo-pacific, and for border security. In fact, what’s interesting is the second-highest request they put in the entire piece was actually for border security.
And then literally within days, the Administration put out an op-ed that said the funding request for border security is a tourniquet. What we really need is a change in policy.
That same day Ali Mayorkas from Homeland Security, President Biden’s Homeland Security Director, was at a hearing I was in. I asked him some very specific questions during that: what are the things that need to be able to change in our system? He responded, ‘Senator, we need the ability to remove individuals who do not qualify for asylum with efficiency and with speed.’ Secretary Mayorkas continued to say, ‘The asylum system needs to be reformed from top to bottom.’ I asked him again. Are policy changes needed? Secretary Mayorkas responded, ‘Yes, policy changes are needed.’
The issue is not is the need there. The issue is not is there a problem in our immigration system. The problem is not is this a crisis at our border. Everyone knows there is a crisis. Literally people working at the border have no tools in their hands to be able to stop this issue.
This needs a solution from Congress, and it requires all of us having the determination to say 12,080 people that crossed our border yesterday is not sustainable.
So what’s the request? It’s pretty straightforward. It’s what anyone would look at and quite frankly what DHS has talked about for years, not just this DHS, the Trump DHS, the Obama DHS have all asked for these issues. And they’re looking for very basic things. They want to be able to know how to manage the asylum requests that accelerated and took off during the latter half of the Obama Administration.
If I can take us back in history to ancient history, in 2010, there were 21,000 people asked for asylum a year on our southern border—21,000 people a year in 2010. That is now every two days now of what we’re facing now. What the request was in the second term of the Obama Administration was we have got to reform our asylum system. We’ve got to be able to process people at the border. We’ve got to be able to not change the rules of what asylum means, but when we change the screening. Do it there to be able to manage those issues, so that people who qualify for asylum under our law are able to come into our country lawfully, and people who do not qualify for asylum cannot come into our country unlawfully.
We all know what is happening. Every administration has identified it. So far this body been unwilling to be able to act on it.
We also know that every day the cartels actually run our southern border. They’re a ruthless, criminal organization that we have experienced firsthand in my state. They’re drug smuggling. They’re human trafficking, and what they have done to literally millions of people they’ve trafficked from around the world.
We need to take control of our border, not give control to the cartels.
I would challenge anyone in this body to be able to go to our southwest border and ask any Border Patrol agent: do we have control of our border? Most every one of them will respond the same way because I’ve heard it over and over, ‘Oh, there is situational control of our border, it’s just on the south side, not on the north side because the cartels are managing who’s actually coming in and what order and how it’s actually done.’ And they’re paid, as the New York Times article detailed, billions of dollars to be able to traffic people into our country. They’re the ones that are managing it.
So the simple, straightforward issue is as the United States of America, are we going to manage our border or are the cartels going to manage our border? Are we going to be able to have a system where we allow people that qualify for asylum to actually get a hearing in a timely basis, or are we going to take people, and push them into the country, and that real legitimate asylum seekers don’t get a hearing for years, and people that don’t qualify for asylum and we all know it, disappear into the country and live underground. This is the decision that we’ve got to come to.
President Biden asked for a national security supplemental, and included into that border funding and then a request for policy changes. It is time to be able to address this issue. And I would tell you, we’ll have a vote later on today. And Republicans are going to speak clearly to say, ‘We will not move to a national security bill that does security for other nations and ignores our own. We will not do it.’
And we believe the American people regardless of party—I don’t find many people who want chaos on our southern border. They want an orderly process. I also don’t find people that are opposed to immigration. They’re just opposed to illegal activity on our border, unchecked activity on our border.
So let’s get back to an orderly process. Let’s have a system that actually works for everybody in the process. And let’s not put the national security for other nations ahead of the national security of Americans. Let’s do it together.