DHD: 6 takeaways from Lankford’s speech on border crisis
Oklahoma U.S. Senator James Lankford reported from the floor of the Senate chambers this week about his recent trip to the U.S.-Mexico border. I appreciate Sen. Lankford’s willingness to make this trek, and because he is somebody I trust (in fact, there’s nobody in current politics I trust more than James Lankford), I believe what he shared about the conditions of the border, the facilities conditions and operations of the Customs and Border Protection, as well as the operations of the cartels which involve child exploitation.
Here is a video of Lankford’s floor speech, and for this week’s edition of Doyle’s Half Dozen, I will give you my takeaways:
1. Lots of TV watching and video games playing
I start my DHD with a light-hearted take. You’ll notice at different times during Lankford’s speech, he shows pictures of the children in border agents’ custody playing video games and watching television.
I don’t know why but I chuckled a little bit when Lankford said, “You can see him playing a little Paw Patrol back at the station,” referring to the three-year-old boy whom the agents found abandoned by human smugglers.
I wouldn’t know for sure, but that may have been the first time Paw Patrol has been mentioned from the U.S. Senate.
Later, Lankford shows a photo of young people in a detention facility watching TV. “They’re sitting there watching actually Puss in Boots on the TV,” Lankford said.
So Paw Patrol and Puss in Boots are both discussed in the congressional chambers of the U.S. Government. At least I can appreciate that dogs and cats are equally represented.
2. Roles of government and church differ
On a more serious note, I would like my fellow evangelical Christian friends to understand the differences in the roles of the church and the government.
It is the role of the government to protect and support citizens. We want a strong military and police force. We must be careful about who comes to our country, especially when they take illegal measures, and because the threat of terrorism is ever present. This is the priority of the government, and everybody including evangelical Christians should value and appreciate the government’s protection.
It is the role of the church, first and foremost, to advance the Gospel and further God’s Kingdom. In doing so, the church should be caring for those in distress or times of need (James 1:27) and showing hospitality to strangers (Heb. 13:2). There are many verses in Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy about respecting and caring for “foreigners.”
In 2014, Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, made this comment:
“The Gospel doesn’t fill in for us on the details on how we can simultaneously balance border security and respect for human life in this case. But the Gospel does tell us that our instinct ought to be one of compassion toward those in need, not disgust or anger.
“The border crisis will take careful work by government leaders. And it will take a church willing to pray and to love. Our answer to the border crisis cannot be quick and easy. But, for the people of God, our consciences must be informed by a Kingdom much more ancient and more permanent than the United States.”
Again, Moore made this statement in 2014. Who was the U.S. president in 2014? I’ll get to that in my next point.
Notice, though, the emphasis Moore made on balancing border security and respect for human life. He said the border crisis, which even existed five years ago, “will take careful work by government leaders.” He then emphasized the church separately, saying the consciences of the people of God “must be informed by (God’s Kingdom).”
It is important for Christians to understand the differences in the roles of the Church and the government when it comes to border security.
I welcome you to read a great commentary from former executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma Anthony Jordan.
In 2014, in his column titled “Our primary effort,” Jordan emphatically explained the role of the church.
“We have declared our desire to show compassion on everyone, whether legal or illegal,” he wrote. “Our churches have not and do not stop people at the door and inquire as to their legal status.”
He also said churches should never violate the law in regard to immigrants.
Please note how different both church and government should be when it comes to handling the border crisis.
3. President Obama’s involvement
So, as I pointed out, the border crisis has existed well before President Trump was in office. Lankford also mentioned this in his speech, and he specifically calls out President Obama and his administration in response to the recent blame given to Trump:
“You see, the famous ‘kids in cages’ facility that President Trump has taken so much heat for is actually a facility in McAllen, Texas, they call the central processing facility. It was stood up in 2014 and 2015 when President Obama was facing a rush of children coming across the border with no place to put them. And so President Obama’s team, Jeh Johnson as the Secretary of DHS, built a facility in McAllen to be able to hold children there. That’s the facility that President Trump is getting blamed for—President Obama and his team actually designed and built. Now, is it a great facility for children? No. I don’t think it is. Nor is it the fault of Border Patrol, though, that it’s a bad facility. They’re using what they have to be able to manage the crisis that’s happening in front of them. But I’m tired of hearing people say that President Trump is trying to be able to throw all these kids out and treat them so miserable when that is not the case.”
Yes, Senator, I’m tired of hearing it too.
I have said in previous DHDs I’m not an avid Trump supporter. I even mentioned I did not vote for Trump in the previous election. I left that portion of the ballot blank, offering an anti-vote. But I want people to present the facts honestly.
If you are on a crusade on the border crisis and are blaming President Trump, why were you not shouting from your stump during the Obama years? It makes your actions appear more politically enticed.
4. Cartel’s involvement
To those who genuinely have concern for those who are crossing the border illegally—seeing these people wanting asylum and desiring to live in America for a better life—your intentions are noble.
However, as Lankford pointed out, be aware of how the cartel (criminal organization) is using people, especially young children, to cross the border for their financial gain.
“Cartels are making millions and millions of dollars exploiting children,” Lankford said. “They are smuggling children and families across the border. If you’re an individual, a single individual, it costs $8,000 now to be able to cross the border, and you pay a toll to the cartels, both to the traffickers and smugglers that are moving people, that $8,000, and then an additional fee to actually physically cross the border at the time of the cartel’s choosing in that area. But if you bring a child with you, it’s half price; it’s $4,000. The incentive now is: it is cheaper to be able to cross this area if you bring a child because the cartel knows, ‘I don’t have to sneak you over the wall. All I have to do is be able to get you to the border and drop you off.’”
Lankford pointed out the cartel used to use 10-, 11-, 12-year-olds, but because these children are able to tell the border agents who they are, the cartel are now using three-year-olds.
Are there innocent people genuinely seeking asylum and a better life? Yes, but the business of the cartels has been happening since the 1980s, and they are playing the system while exploiting children and families for their financial gain. Please don’t discredit this and understand how difficult it can be to handle this border crisis.
5. False reporting
Lankford also debunked the false accusations of the treatment of immigrants in the border facilities.
“One of the things that I’ve heard so many times is ‘these kids can’t even brush their teeth because Americans are so mean and because the Border Patrol are so ruthless to them.’ I went to five different facilities, and every facility I asked to see their supply room,” Lankford said. He mentioned he saw 87,000 toothbrushes as well as other hygiene products, along with many snacks and supplies.
Lankford pointed out the border agents are personally paying for clothing and other materials to provide for children.
“Are facilities overcrowded? Absolutely there are. The people that struggle with that the most are actually members of the Border Patrol because they have been exceptionally frustrated that they’re not getting more support and more ability to be able to transition people out of their facilities into actual detention facilities,” Lankford said.
6. ‘Go with the angel every time’
I conclude with sharing Lankford’s closing comments:
“I will never forget last year sitting with a bipartisan group of my colleagues, and as we discussed solutions to immigration, one of my Democratic colleagues said out loud, ‘I haven’t decided what I want to do on this yet. There’s an angel on one shoulder saying this problem needs to be solved, and there’s a devil on my other shoulder saying, this is the greatest political weapon I have against the President. Why would I give it up? And I haven’t decided which way I’m going to go yet’. I looked at them and said, ‘Here’s a basic rule of thumb I try to live by: when there’s an angel and a devil talking to you, go with the angel every time.’ This is something we should do, and we should stop playing political games and trying to hurt the President and ignore the obvious solutions that we all should see. This is not a partisan issue. This is a humanity issue. Let’s go solve it together.”