'We Can't Just Ignore The Problem,' Sen. James Lankford On Border Security, Senate-Negotiated Border Bill

Sen. James Lankford joined News 9 for an interview live from Washington, D.C., to discuss reactions to his State of the Union appearance and his views on border control. 

Tuesday, March 12th 2024, 8:56 am

By: News 9


Many Oklahomans were caught off guard by a three-second shot of Oklahoma Senator James Lankford during last week's State of the Union address.

Lankford joined News 9 for an interview live from Washington, D.C., to discuss reactions to his State of the Union appearance and his views on controlling the border. 

During the State of the Union, the senator agreed with President Biden that the Senate-negotiated border bill would have helped immigration judges and border patrol agents. 

Lankford said while there were many things the President said that he disagreed with, what he said at that moment was actually true. 

“This bill would have added a lot more Border Patrol agents, ICE agents, it would have dramatically increased the number of deportation flights, would have built more wall, it would have dramatically affected how we actually do the asylum process and speed the process up,” Lankford said. 

He said everyone should be working together to secure the border, despite political affiliation, to keep Americans safe. 

“My statement has been over and over again: let's get as much as we possibly can done. Do that and keep going,” Lankford said. “Because yesterday, we had 7000 people illegally cross the border.” 

He said many people have been confused by the purpose of the bill and explained how it is supposed to work. 

“The way that it was set up was the very first person that crossed the very first day, they would detain them, they would quickly screen them, and they would deport them in a very short time period,” Lankford said. 

Lankford said when the amount of people crosses 5,000, it would take away all due process, and everyone would be detained and deported. 

He says that despite all the confusion, he wants the border security issue to be solved, and he says the President should be the one to do that. 

“The President's trying to blame Republicans instead of actually doing the job that he needs to do, that he already has the authority to do. Republicans are trying to blame Democrats and to say they don't want to do it,” Lankford said. 

On Monday, Lankford met with national security officials during a public hearing and said many people do not understand that things at the border have changed. 

He said that there are tens of thousands of people coming in who are special interest aliens who are defined as a unique terror threat. 

“We have more Russians coming, more Chinese coming, more folks from West Africa, among more folks from the Middle East, we have a lot higher threat level,” Lankford said. 

Lankford said it is time to put politics aside and do everything we can to fix the problem and President Biden is failing to do so. 

“The President needs to use the authorities. He's got the same authorities. President Trump had the same authority as President Obama to control the border,” Lankford said. 

Lankford said his advice to Oklahomans is to properly research and talk with others to try to find common ground about controversial issues like this. 

“I have to sit down with people I disagree with; I have to work out and find common ground with them. I'm not going to get everything I want. They're not going to get everything they want,” Lankford said. “But we can't just ignore the problem at the southern border and think this just gets magically better on its own.”

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