Sen. James Lankford pushes back against Republican critics of Senate border bill

'One of the dumbest bills I've ever seen,' Trump says

An illegal migrant man crosses through the banks of the Rio Grande to be processed by the Border Patrol El Paso Sector, Texas, after crossing from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on May 10, 2023.
An illegal migrant man crosses through the banks of the Rio Grande to be processed by the Border Patrol El Paso Sector, Texas, after crossing from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on May 10, 2023. | HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., pushed back against scathing criticism from his GOP colleagues Monday regarding a proposed 370-page border bill that detractors say fails to address the illegal immigration crisis.

Lankford, who served as the lead Republican negotiator in the Senate's bipartisan $118 billion spending package that ties border security to fresh funding for Ukraine, Israel and Gaza, claimed during a Monday interview on Fox & Friends that the legislation "flips the script" on the illegal immigration crisis.

Lankford, who urged critics to read the bill for themselves, claimed that if the law had been in place four months ago, "we would have had a million fewer illegal immigrants in our country right now."

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He further claimed that people are misunderstanding how the bill handles illegal crossings.

"Some people have said it would mean 5,000 people a day are coming into the country every day," he wrote in an X post. "That is absurd and untrue. The emergency authority is not designed to let 5,000 people in, it is designed to close the border and turn 5,000 people around."

Lankford further explained in a statement that the bill would push the Biden administration to stem the tide of illegal immigration while equipping a future administration with "a huge number of new enforcement tools."

"The bill provides funding to build the wall, increase technology at the border, and add more detention beds, more agents, and more deportation flights," he said.

After the text of the bill was released Sunday, it prompted criticism from House GOP leaders such as House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La.; House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La.; House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Ind.; and House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y.

The House GOP leaders released a statement Monday noting that the Senate bill "fails in every policy area needed to secure our border and would actually incentivize illegal immigration."

The GOP leaders maintained that the bill fails to include necessary asylum reforms while expanding work authorizations for illegal immigrants. They further said the bill's language allows for illegal immigrants to be released from physical custody, which they said would continue President Joe Biden's "catch and release" policy.

They said the bill is also riddled with loopholes that give too much power to Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who the leaders claimed "will exploit every measure possible, in defiance of the law, to keep the border open." Mayorkas is facing potential impeachment charges from the House over the border.

The leaders added that "America's sovereignty is at stake" regarding the illegal immigration crisis.

"I’ve seen enough," Johnson tweeted over the weekend. "This bill is even worse than we expected, and won’t come close to ending the border catastrophe the President has created. As the lead Democrat negotiator proclaimed: Under this legislation, 'the border never closes.' If this bill reaches the House, it will be dead on arrival."

Johnson reiterated his opinion on the bill during an interview Monday night with Fox News host Laura Ingraham, telling her it would "actually further incentivize illegal immigration."

"It would not resolve any of the problems, not reform in any meaningful way, the broken asylum system, the broken parole process and all the things that have created this catastrophe," he said.

"And by the way, meanwhile, it further empowers the very cabinet secretary who designed and created this mess," he continued. "They don't follow federal law. Why would we do this anyway? But the bill itself would actually do more harm than good. And that's why we've said it's a non-starter over here in the House."

Former President Donald Trump also blasted the bill, calling it "a Democrat trap" and "one of the dumbest bills I've ever seen" during a Monday interview on Newsmax.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, described the border deal as "even worse than we thought" in an X post.

"No one who cares about our border security should support it," he said. "It is a betrayal of the American people."

Rep. Mark E. Green, R-Tenn., who chairs the House Committee on Homeland Security, was also critical of the bill.

"While my staff and I are reviewing this legislation, I join Speaker Johnson in opposing any new agreement that fails to eliminate the perverse incentives Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas created through his unlawful agenda of mass catch-and-release and his refusal to remove those with no lawful basis to remain in the country," Green said in a statement.

Green added that he would "vehemently oppose any agreement that legitimizes or normalizes any level of illegal immigration," and urged lawmakers to end "this historic border crisis" by enforcing the law.

Jon Brown is a reporter for The Christian Post. Send news tips to

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