Under new 'online sign-up for asylum,' illegal immigrants could flock to US airports: GOP senator

Biden administration "not only doesn't want to stop illegal immigration, they're trying to accelerate this," said Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.). "They're not working to stop it. They're working to make it more efficient." 

Updated: July 16, 2022 - 11:45pm

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Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford is warning that the Biden administration's forthcoming online asylum system will lead to illegal immigrants showing up at airports around the country, worsening the migration crisis.

Lankford said he discovered the plan for the new asylum system during his meetings with Biden administration officials this week.

"They're in the process of designing a new system for asylum, and in their new system for asylum, it is an online sign-up for asylum that you could sign up for asylum from anywhere in the world," Lankford said during a news conference with a group of Republican senators who visited the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas on Friday. "And then not only cross the border illegally and request asylum and be able to come right in, but you could literally come to any airport in America and make the same claim coming from anywhere in the world.

"It is clear this administration not only doesn't want to stop illegal immigration, they're trying to accelerate this. They're not working to stop it. They're working to make it more efficient." 

Lankford said many Americans think the border situation is not a crisis anymore because it's not in the headlines as much as other issues.

"I surprise them by saying, actually, the highest number of illegal crossings ever in the history of our country have happened the last four months in a row," he said. "And they just say I had no idea because no one's choosing to tell the story of what's happening in America right now." 

Over the years, American ranchers with property along the U.S.-Mexico border, such as John Ladd, have called for more barriers to protect open areas of the border from illegal crossings.

Ladd said many of the migrants he's seen entering the U.S. illegally through his property are young men, and only about 30% of them are caught by the Border Patrol.

"These people cannot turn themselves in, they will be deported," Cochise County (Ariz.) Sheriff Mark Dannels said. "These are the bad people. We're dealing with the worst of the worst."

President Biden halted the construction of more barriers at the border through an executive order when he took office.

Republican Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and John Hoeven North Dakota said adding physical barriers at open parts of the border would cut back on illegal activity.

"We authorized and appropriated funding for a barrier, for a wall, it is partially built, and the money is sitting there, and the wall parts, the technology, all the things, they're just sitting there," said Johnson. "They're not even using the money or the inventory they have to build the wall." 

Johnson, former chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said he saw dead bodies floating in the Rio Grande during his previous trip to the border.

Hoeven told reporters that the border is not secure, despite what Biden administration officials have been claiming publicly. The U.S. Border Patrol now estimates that migrants arriving at the border are from 150 different countries, he noted.

"This isn't just Central America, or South America or even Cuba — 150 different countries, and we don't even know who they are," he said. 

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