Sinema-Backed Bipartisan Bill Protects Arizona from Security Risks Posed by Drones

Jul 29, 2022

Senator’s bipartisan legislation reauthorizes and strengthens security and mitigation efforts against drones

WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema cosponsored and helped introduce the Safeguarding the Homeland from the Threats Posed by Unmanned Aircraft Systems Act – bipartisan legislation that strengthens security and readiness against threats posed by drones and other unmanned aircraft systems to Arizona. Without congressional action, the federal government’s authority to interdict drones threatening the homeland – including drones used by terrorists, cartels, or hostile foreign governments – will expire in October.
“We’re ensuring government keeps the tools it needs to stop drones from being used to conduct attacks, espionage, and other illicit activities. By reauthorizing and making common sense reforms to our ability to detect and interdict drones posing a threat to sensitive facilities, we will strengthen our border security and ensure Arizona’s airports are kept safe and secure,” said Sinema, Chair of both the Senate Border Management Subcommittee and the Senate Aviation Subcommittee.
Sinema’s bipartisan bill reauthorizes authorities that allow the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and Justice to protect designated areas and events against drones. Sinema’s legislation also broadens the authorities to include protecting airports and critical infrastructure from drones, and creates a pilot program for additional law enforcement agencies to counter drone-related threats. The bill also ensures the privacy and civil liberties of legitimate drone users are respected by imposing strict limitations on the government’s use of these authorities.
Potential illicit uses of drones include targeting large sporting events, surveilling sensitive government facilities, blocking flight paths, disrupting critical infrastructure, smuggling drugs along the border, and even terrorist attacks. In 2023, Arizona will host the Super Bowl – an event that the government has historically protected against drone-related threats under the authorities that expire later this year and would be reauthorized by Sinema’s legislation.
In November 2021, Yuma Sector Border Patrol agents caught a drone smuggling 6.5 pounds of heroin across the border; according to reporting, it was the third drone captured smuggling drugs last year in Yuma. In 2020, multiple drones breached the perimeter of Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station in Tonopah.