Oklahoma County Republican Party censures US Sen. James Lankford

Sen. James Lankford speaks to reporters in January at the U.S. Capitol.
Sen. James Lankford speaks to reporters in January at the U.S. Capitol.
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Oklahoma County Republicans on Saturday censured U.S. Sen. James Lankford over his work on a failed border security deal.

The overwhelming vote to censure the senior Republican senator came at a party convention in Oklahoma City.

"The people have spoken," the county party chair, Ken Warner, told The Oklahoman.

"It's really because he's said he's willing to allow 5,000 illegals ... per day," Warner said. "That was part of the border bill. ... That was one of the things in there."

He estimated 225 Republicans attended the convention.

More: 'It's true': Sen. Lankford nods as Biden rehashed immigration bill in State of the Union

More: EDITORIAL: Lankford leadership in border efforts deserves applause, not censure

Lankford has worked to craft a bipartisan deal to address the surge in illegal immigration along the nation's southern border. It has the support of President Joe Biden. It has not advanced, largely because former President Donald Trump has spoken out against it.

Lankford has complained the deal has been misunderstood.

"It would be absolutely absurd for me to agree to 5,000 people a day. This bill focuses on getting us to zero illegal crossings a day," he told Fox News in January. "This is not about letting 5,000 people in a day. ... This is set up for, if you have a rush of people coming at the border, the border closes down. No one gets in."

As Biden was touting the deal during his State of the Union address Thursday, GOP lawmakers began to boo. As Biden explained what the bill would have done, Lankford nodded and mouthed "It's true."

On Sunday, Lankford joined CNN's Jake Tapper to discuss his reaction during the president's address.

"I was actually listening to the president and thinking, no that part is actually true," Lankford said. "It [the border bill] would have hired all of those additional agents, would have expedited the [asylum] process [to deport illegal border crossers], and would have also changed the asylum standard. … The only way to be able to solve this problem right now, legally, is to be able to change the asylum standard."

Lankford also said there are other executive actions the president could take, but has chosen not to do yet.

"He has a very open parole system that literally thousands of people a day are coming across and being rapidly paroled," Lankford said. "He is not actually doing what’s called the 'last-in first-up for hearing' to deter people from coming across by having faster hearings in the process."

Some members of the Oklahoma Republican Party met in January to censure Lankford over what they called his "open border deal." The state party's chair, Nathan Dahm, later said the meeting was illegal and the censure was not an official position of the Oklahoma GOP.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Oklahoma County Republican Party censures US Sen. James Lankford