Senator James Lankford (R-OK), lead Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Government Operations and Border Management, today held a hearing entitled, “Examining the Effects of Increased Migration on Communities Along the Southern Border.”
Witnesses at today’s hearing included Chief of Police for McAlester, OK, Kevin Hearod; Mayor of Yuma, AZ, Douglas Nicholls; Mayor of Sierra Vista, AZ, Clea McCaa II; and Deputy County Administrator and Chief Medical Officer of Pima County, AZ, Francisco Garcia, M.D., M.P.H..
Lankford’s questions to Chief Hearod focused on the situation facing local law enforcement from increased criminal activity and drugs due to illegal immigration across our southern border. Lankford also raised the issue of the disaster awaiting us when President Biden rescinds Title 42 at the southern border and how it will add to the shocking backlog of as much as 18 years to hear an initial asylum claim in New York City. Lankford asked what social media companies need to do to keep their platforms from facilitating human and drug trafficking.
Lankford remains the leading voice in the Senate to secure our southern border, end catch-and-release, and fix the broken asylum process. Last week, Lankford got Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to admit that our asylum process is broken and being abused and that our entire immigration process is broken.
On the increased drugs and criminal activity facing Oklahoma law enforcement because of the wide open southern border
Lankford: You had several references in your testimony as well to methamphetamine and fentanyl. You also referenced that it is the understanding that this is dominantly coming out of Mexico…What are you hearing from the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and from your own sources in McAlester on the source of the drugs that are coming into Oklahoma?
Hearod: The source of our drugs starts in Mexico, and it works its way across the border either as a drug product or maybe as a precursor that, once it gets into Texas–typically for us, then it is converted into a drug or made into methamphetamine or the fentanyl is already brought in. Typically where I live, it comes through Dallas, Texas. The cartels, the mules carry it through Texas, through Dallas, they come up 69 Highway and distribute it in McAlester…
On potentially 18-year backlog timeframe for an asylum hearing due to our broken asylum process
Lankford: You had mentioned that individuals coming in to be able to pursue, we’ve got to get to judges faster. We need to have courts that are closer to the border. Why would that be?
Nicholls: Because what’s really happening is people are being released pending a future court date, which could be three, to four, to five years down the road.
Lankford: Oh, let me make it worse. If an individual crosses in Yuma, Arizona, as you know because you’ve seen this process, as they cross the border, Border Patrol, and they go through the process with them of saying, ‘Where would you like to make your asylum claim to be able to go through that?’ They’re told, for instance, if they selected New York City right now and said, ‘I’m going to go to New York,’ they’re released on their own recognizance to make it to New York however they want to or connecting with other organizations. The next date for their first hearing—not their determination if they receive asylum—the next date available in New York City right now is in 2033, is the next available date. So they will wait 10 years before they do the first hoop. The next hoop is eight years after that. So currently an individual crossing in Yuma that says, ‘I want to request asylum’ will be 18 years before final determination. I hate to interrupt you, but it’s worse than you think.
Nicholls: That’s a lot worse than I think. You know, I was just told the other day there are 660,000 people waiting to cross the border when Title 42 is rescinded. They will come through within a month, and when they come through, they will be tacking on time to places like New York City.