Oklahoma Delegates React To President Biden's Executive Order On Border Crossings By Asylum Seekers

President Joe Biden‘s new executive order sharply restricting the ability of asylum seekers to enter the country between ports of entry has gone into effect, but it’s too soon to say what its long-term impact will be on illegal border crossings.

Friday, June 7th 2024, 10:00 pm



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President Joe Biden‘s new executive order sharply restricting the ability of asylum seekers to enter the country between ports of entry has gone into effect, but it’s too soon to say what its long-term impact will be on illegal border crossings.

It’s not too soon, however, to say what the Oklahoma congressional delegation thinks of the policy.

No Oklahoma member of the delegation has been more intricately involved in the border issue than Senator James Lankford, who helped negotiate the bipartisan deal that his fellow Republicans rejected, but which President Biden borrowed from in implementing his new policy.

"I've come here today to do what the Republicans in Congress refused to do: take the necessary steps to secure our border," said President Biden in prepared remarks at the White House on Tuesday.

Biden signed an executive order that, in effect, closes the border between ports of entry until migrant encounters, which have been hovering between 3,500 to 5,000 a day recently, drop below an average of 1,500 a day over two weeks. That's a level that hasn’t been seen, Lankford noted on the Senate floor a day later, since Biden first took office.

"This is a border crisis of this administration’s creation," Lankford stated. "They created this crisis."

Sen. Lankford is the first to acknowledge that Congress has failed to do its part in reforming the asylum process but he says if Biden were truly serious about addressing the border crisis, he would reinstate the Remain in Mexico policy, restart border wall construction, and so much more than just cherry pick the emergency shutoff valve contained in the bill he worked on.

"The heart of the bill was not what you do after thousands of people are crossing the border," Lankford said, "the heart of the bill is what you do for the first person that illegally crosses."

Progressive Democrats have also criticized the order, but for being too restrictive, and the ACLU will reportedly sue the government to halt its enforcement. But moderates, especially in border states, have welcomed it.

"With my Republican colleagues not wanting to take action on this," said Arizona Democratic Senator Mark Kelly, "we’re at this point where the White House is taking some steps that I truly believe is going to  make a big difference."

That remains to be seen, and for now, Oklahoma members are deeply skeptical.

"This action was nothing more than smoke & mirrors," said Rep. Kevin Hern(R-OK1) in a social media post, "scoring political points with the American people before the election rather than providing a solution."

Lankford also believes President Biden's motivation in adopting the policy is political, but then he's also seen his members of his own party use the issue for political ends.

"Stop playing politics with this on all sides," Lankford said.


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