Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Gaylord News

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Gaylord News

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Gaylord News

Lankford’s immigration policy work jeopardized by Trump

Donna Burton
A Border Patrol vehicle patrols the border between San Diego and Tijuana in this 2016 file photo. Lawmakers sparred at a recent House hearing over whether a surge at the border contributes to human trafficking. (Photo by Donna Burton/U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

WASHINGTON– Sen. James Lankford has for weeks been working on a bi-partisan immigration reform framework that now appears to be dead in the water, thanks to a statement made by former president Donald Trump and a letter from Speaker of the House Mike Johnson to his fellow House members.

“A border deal now would be another gift to the radical left Democrats. They need it politically, but don’t care about our border,” Trump said Thursday.

Oklahoma Senator Lankford’s office indicated he will touch base with reporters early next week about the status of the committee work.

Johnson cast doubt on the prospects of the proposed draft, stating Friday that if rumors about its contents are true, it would be “dead on arrival in the House anyway.”

“I am emphasizing again today that House Republicans will vigorously oppose any policy proposal from the White House or Senate that would further incentivize illegal aliens to break our laws,” Johnson said.

Johnson said many constituents have asked what is the point of negotiating new laws when laws already on the books are not enforced.

Details of the draft have not been released. Lankford previously denied leaked statements about the draft of the border immigration deal.

“A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on,” Lankford posted on X.

“I encourage people to read the border security bill before they judge the border security bill. I also advise people not to believe everything you read on the internet.”

Lankford said he has not communicated with Trump in months. He said he and a  bipartisan group of senators working on the border deal, including Democrat Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona independent, are still moving forward.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., adjourned the chamber on Thursday afternoon, vowing that Democrats remain committed to the deal and that “negotiators will work all weekend in an effort to get this done.”

During a private meeting on Wednesday night, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged the challenges of passing an immigration bill, Lankford told reporters at the Capitol. McConnell expressed concern about the potential impact on Trump.

But Lankford said McConnell’s comments did not mean a deal on immigration would be killed so that Trump, the likely Republican nominee for the November presidential election, could attack President Joe Biden on the issue.

“McConnell was laying out the political realities of where things are, and it was the elephant-in-the-room conversation,” Lankford said. “We’re in a political election season.

“It’s now the end of January, in the middle of the presidential primary season, so I think that’s the shift that has occurred that he’s just acknowledging,” Lankford said of McConnell.

According to Johnson’s Friday letter, the Senate “appears unable to reach any agreement about the border policy.”

“Nine months have now passed since we sent our Secure the Border Act (H.R.2) to the Senate. As we have explained repeatedly, that bill contains the core legislative reforms that are necessary to actually compel the Biden administration to resolve the border catastrophe,” Johnson said.

U.S. Border Patrol agents in the Nogales Bicycle Unit monitor pedestrian traffic east of the DeConcini Port of Entry. (Photo by Andrew Franklin/Customs and Border Protection)

The agreement on which the committee has been working is anticipated to heighten the standards for asylum-seekers entering the U.S., provide increased authority to expel migrants for border control and limit the use of parole for specific migrants awaiting case processing.

Along with his Republican colleagues, Lankford is unwilling to support a foreign aid package without securing the US-Mexico border.

“We have not only responsibility in other countries, we have responsibility right here, and right now American national security is being ignored and that’s about to come to an end,” Lankford said in an interview with Newsmax.

As Senate Democrats continue to say the Department of Homeland Security just needs more money to solve the wide-open border, Lankford insists money alone will not solve the southern border problem and that what is needed are policy changes that fix asylum and parole.

“We need a change in behavior of what’s actually happening,” Lankford said.

On the social media platform Truth Social, Trump urged Johnson not to accept a deal “unless we get EVERYTHING needed to shut down the INVASION of millions and millions of people.”

“I think the border is a very important issue for Donald Trump,” said Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican who has pressed his party to approve military aid for Ukraine.

“And the fact that he would communicate to Republican senators and congresspeople that he doesn’t want us to solve the border problem because he wants to blame Biden for it is really appalling,” Romney said.

“The reality is that we have a crisis at the border, the American people are suffering as a result of what’s happening at the border. And someone running for president ought to try and get the problem solved as opposed to saying: ‘Hey, save that problem. Don’t solve it. Let me take credit for solving it later,’” Romney said.

Biden had asked lawmakers for nearly $106 billion in funding for Israel, Ukraine, countering China in the Indo-Pacific and operations on the southern U.S. border. But the funding package has been stuck in Congress amid Republican demands for changes to border policy.

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., said it would be “immoral” to reject a deal for partisan reasons.

“You don’t knowingly make this country less safe for political points,” Tillis said.

Johnson said the House Homeland Security Committee will move forward next week with articles of impeachment against Alejandro Mayorkas, Department of Homeland Security secretary. Johnson said Mayorkas willfully ignored and actively undermined immigration laws.

“My office has documented at least 64 specific actions taken by his administration that effectively opened our border and instituted the current chaos,” Johnson said.

Republican U.S. Rep. Josh Brecheen of Oklahoma stated online he stands with Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas on the matter.

“Due to President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas, we have an invasion at our Southern border,” Brecheen said.


Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. For more stories by Gaylord News, go to

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