Sinema Calls on State Department to Increase Border Security Collaboration with Mexico Regarding Cross-Border Tunnels

Mar 29, 2022

WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema and a bipartisan group of senators called on the U.S. State Department to increase its border security collaboration with Mexico and ensure the permanent closure of illegal cross-border tunnels to prevent transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) from using them to smuggle weapons and drugs. 
“Illegal cross-border tunnels pose a serious threat to the safety and security of Arizonans, and collaboration with Mexico’s Government is key to fully seal off these tunnels and combat drug and weapons trafficking,” said Sinema, Chair of the Senate Border Management and Government Operations Subcommittee.
The first documented cross-border tunnel was discovered in Douglas, Arizona in May 1990. Since then, more than 124 additional tunnels have been found in the Tucson and Yuma Sectors, more than all the other border sectors combined. These tunnels pose a security threat to both the United States and Mexico, as TCOs use these tunnels to move persons and contraband, including narcotics, currency, and weapons, into and out of the United States.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection regularly cooperates with the Mexican Government to conduct sweeps of cross-border tunnels. However, Mexico’s Government reportedly does not always take sufficient action to completely seal off those and prevent reuse. As a result, TCOs can reuse the tunnel infrastructure and dig new paths into the United States from inside the tunnel.
Sinema’s letter asks the U.S. State Department to provide more information on its actions related to illicit cross-border tunnels along the Southwest border, including discussions with Mexico’s Government about the tunnel remediation and best practices to hold individuals accountable for cross-border tunnels use and facilitation.
In January, Sinema and a group of Senate and House committee leaders called for oversight of Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) use of Critical Incident Teams along the Southwest Border to help ensure CBP can effectively secure the border and ensure migrants are treated fairly and humanely.