Senator Lankford And Senate GOP Propose Changes In Border Policy

Senate Republicans presented their proposal for securing the southern border, Democrats push back.

Tuesday, November 7th 2023, 5:20 pm

By: News 9, Alex Cameron


Senate Republicans — led in large part by Oklahoma Senator James Lankford — have laid out their proposal for securing the southern border, and while Democrats are pushing back on it, there is hope in the GOP conference that they have enough leverage to get at least some of it signed into law.

The Biden administration and Democrats need Republican support to pass the large aid package they want, a package that includes military support for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, as well as, new funding to speed up asylum processing at the U.S.-Mexico border.

"But the border doesn’t need more funding to be able to solve the problem," said Senator Lankford (R-OK) in an interview Tuesday, "the border needs a change in policy, needs a change in the law."

When pressed on this point -- which Lankford did in a Homeland Security Committee hearing last week -- the administration apparently agrees.

"The asylum system," testified Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, "needs to be reformed from top to bottom."

"I hope other people were listening," Lankford said. "Quite frankly, [Sec'y Mayorkas] and I have talked about some of these issues privately before, but he would never say it publicly."

Lankford has been a leading voice in Congress on the border crisis and together with Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) drew up the GOP proposal, which they released jointly Monday.

Among the highlights -- it includes restarting border wall construction, providing overtime pay for -- and help retain -- veteran border agents, and restricting the use of humanitarian parole, which Republicans say the administration is using far too liberally to allow migrants into the country.

Perhaps most significantly, the proposal would greatly overhaul the asylum process, beginning with implementing a 'safe third country' policy and not allowing migrants to seek asylum first in the United States, if they had to travel through a third, potentially safe, country to get here.

"Asylum is you go to the 'next safe place' that you can get to and request asylum in that spot," explained Lankford, "not pick whatever country you want in the world and request it there."

Also, migrants could only request asylum at an actual port of entry and there would be no more ‘two bites of the apple’ for people who are denied asylum but decide to try their luck and enter the country anyway.

"And (they) are later caught in the country, then say, 'I want to apply for asylum again', and you get a second bite at the apple," Lankford said. "It's really a way to delay being deported."

Lankford says, simply put, the system is broken, "and I’m trying to bring an actual real solution to the problem."

Leading Democrats are saying the proposal is way too much like the House’s Secure the Border Act (H.R. 2) and is thus a non-starter. But Lankford says, as with any issue, there’s the public rhetoric and there’s what people say privately, and he says many Democrats are telling him privately the proposal is reasonable.


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