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News On 6 KOTV - Tulsa
Lawmakers Working To Resolve Border Patrol Problems
Illegal border crossings are down slightly in 2023 compared to 2022, but still at historically high levels. This has members of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation still hammering away at the Biden administration and also working towards possible, if only partial, solutions.
Partisan attacks on the administration and the policies that Republicans say have caused the surge in illegal immigration are commonplace on Capitol Hill. Less common are bipartisan efforts aimed at mitigating the problems. There was one such effort launched last week, the introduction of legislation to get more veterans working in law enforcement at the border.
"We have a lot of different needs at the border right now, not only border fencing, border security, technology, we also need manpower," said Oklahoma Senator James Lankford, who has focused a lot of attention on border issues since Biden took office.
Increasing manpower at the border is why Sen. Lankford joined Democratic Senator Jon Tester of Montana in introducing the Veterans Border Patrol Training Act, which would make it easier and less time-consuming for retiring members of the military to transition to working for the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP).
"If we tell them, 'Hey, we’d like you to serve on Border Patrol but you have to wait eight months to be able to do that,' no one can wait that long and have that long of a gap between paychecks," Sen. Lankford said in an interview Tuesday.
Sen. Lankford says, having been in the military, these men and women have already been through background checks and various certification procedures.
"Why don’t we allow those things to be waived, so they get a chance to step straight to the task," Sen. Lankford said, "because we really need to help right now at the border."
Oklahoma 2nd District Congressman Josh Brecheen recently saw that for himself.
"You have to be able to have operational control," Rep. Brecheen said in an interview last week.
A freshman congressman and member of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Brecheen made his first trip to the border in February and says he saw why more agents are needed, and also more of the border wall.
"To see illegal aliens hundreds of yards away from where the border wall stopped, lying in crevices, waiting for the darkness of night to cross," Rep. Brecheen recounted, "was so educational to know that even the illegals know the border walls work."
Congressman Brecheen will be back at the border Wednesday for a field hearing titled "Examining the direct link between President Biden’s and (DHS) Secretary Mayorkas’ reckless border policies and the unprecedented crisis at the southwest border."