Oklahoma Delegation Weighs In On Southern Border Crisis

Tuesday, March 16th 2021, 5:41 pm
By: Alex Cameron

A surge in illegal crossings at the nation's southern border is quickly turning into the first crisis for the new administration, and members of Oklahoma's congressional delegation are putting the blame squarely on President Biden.

Democrats scored political points when President Trump's immigration policies -- most notably, the separation of children from their asylum-seeking parents -- resulted in a humanitarian crisis at the border.

Now it's republicans' turn.

Among his first acts as president, Biden signed executive orders reversing policies related to the treatment of those attempting to cross the border illegally, as well as, halting all construction of his predecessor's controversial border wall.

"This is nonsensical," said Oklahoma Senator James Lankford Tuesday on the Senate floor, "I understand the Biden team and some of my Democratic colleagues want a more open border, they've been clear on that -- [but] this does not provide security for our nation."

Lankford was referring to photographs he took this past weekend at a location west of Nogales, on the Arizona-Mexico line. The wall appears complete, except for gaps where, Lankford stated, maintenance access gates were to have been installed.

"Why in the world would you do construction, and have it stop to say you can build everything except close the gates?" Sen. Lankford, (R) OK, queried.

Lankford wasn't alone in bringing up the immigration issue. At an Armed Services Committee hearing, ranking member Sen. Jim Inhofe held up a photograph as he questioned the heads of U.S. Southern Command and U.S. Northern Command on disincentivizing illegal immigration.

"They're all coming across the border, they're coming fast, and they're all wearing Biden t-shirts. So, listen, we've got a problem down there," Inhofe described.

The group of about 20 would-be migrants are wearing t-shirts that say 'Biden, please let us in.' It's not clear who gave them the shirts.

Republicans said this a crisis of Biden's own making and suggest he's more interested in opening the border to illegal immigrants than reopening schools in COVID-plagued America.

"In the month of February, you had 100,000 interactions on the southern border, You've got minors that are coming across unaccompanied...and the administration doesn't want to admit there's a problem," " said Rep. Stephanie Bice, (R) OK-5,

The Biden administration admits that the current situation with more than 4,000 minors being held in detention centers, in what have been described as very rough conditions, is unacceptable. They said they are working to expedite moving the minors into appropriate shelters where they can get medical care, better nutrition, and have access to educational resources, mental health counseling and legal counseling.

A spokeswoman for the administration said they are committed to a more humanitarian immigration policy.

"We are trying to work through what was a dismantled and unprepared system because of the role of the last administration," said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, "It's going to take some time."

Senator Lankford said everything he saw on his recent trip to the border suggests something else.

"There's only one reason you would have a fence like this for miles and miles and leave it open as a gap…to allow people through," Lankford said.

Lankford, who is up for re-election next year, will make another trip to the border on Friday. He and Texas Senators Cruz and Cornyn will be in the Rio Grande Valley.