Senator’s bipartisan bill directs Customs and Border Protection to develop a plan combating illegal underground tunnels on the Southwest Border
WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s bipartisan DHS Illicit Cross-Border Tunnel Defense Act – legislation introduced with Republican Senator John Cornyn (Texas) that improves border security by combatting cartels’ human smuggling and drug trafficking operations – passed the U.S. Congress through its annual bipartisan defense legislation.
“We’re cracking down on cartels smuggling drugs and people across our border by directing Customs and Border Protection to develop a plan to seal illegal underground tunnels on the Southwest Border,” said Sinema, Chair of the Senate Border Management Subcommittee.
Sinema’s DHS Illicit Cross-Border Tunnel Defense Act passed the Senate Homeland Security Committee in October. The Senator’s bipartisan legislation instructs Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to develop a plan that helps identify, breach, and remediate illicit cross-border tunnels. The legislation also requires CBP to conduct a resource assessment to determine the technology and staffing needs necessary for this strategic plan’s implementation, and report to Congress on CBP’s implementation progress after one year.
Illicit cross-border tunnels are a major problem on the Southwest Border. These tunnels allow cartels to move people and drugs freely across the border, putting Arizona communities at risk. The first cross-border tunnel was discovered in Douglas in May 1990. Since then, over 100 additional tunnels have been found in the Tucson Sector, more than any other border sector.
In February, Sinema, Cornyn and a bipartisan group of senators called on the Secretary of 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 cartels from using them to smuggle weapons and drugs.