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Our Insecure Border is Allowing Criminals, Gangs to Thrive

August 29, 2019

Our Insecure Border is Allowing Criminals, Gangs to Thrive

The Problem:

Our Border is Not Secure

  • Of the approximately 2,000 miles of U.S.-Mexico border, CBP has determined about 1,500 as suitable for barrier, and only 654 miles had walls or barriers when President Trump took office in 2017.
  • The Trump Administration has made serious progress securing the border, obtaining funding for 110 miles of new barriers and constructing replacement and secondary barriers in dilapidated areas.
  • But, more work remains. When the new sections are completed, more than 700 suitable miles will remain barrier-less.

Criminals and Gangs are Taking Advantage of Vulnerabilities at our Border Putting our Nation at Risk

  • Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) profit from smuggling drugs, people, and other contraband into the United States across our southwest border.
  • There is an undeniable connection between TCOs and terrorism. Of the organizations on Justice Department’s Consolidated Priority Organization Target List, 35 percent have ties to terrorist organizations.
  • The DEA has tagged Mexican TCOs as the greatest criminal drug threat to the United States, controlling profitable smuggling corridors along the southwest border.
  • In just the last 10 months, CBP has seized more than 2,200 pounds of fentanyl—enough for 498 million lethal doses, nearly 92,000 pounds of cocaine, more than 4,500 pounds of heroin, and more than 65,000 pounds of methamphetamine.

Criminal Organizations Have Orchestrated Massive Human Smuggling Operations, Draining Resources and Putting Communities at Risk

  • This year, criminal organizations facilitated the transportation of the highest number of migrant children and families to the southwest border than ever recorded, leading to more than 1 million CBP enforcement actions since last October.
  • Not everyone smuggled to our border is a family or child in search of economic opportunity or asylum. Border Patrol has apprehended more than 850 known gang members and CBP has encountered more than 14,000 convicted criminal aliens.
  • Additionally, not every “family” that has turned up at the border is who they say they are – DHS has identified more than 5,800 fraudulent families in fiscal year (FY) 2019, putting children immediately at risk.

The Solution:

Invest in More Barriers

  • Congress should invest in barriers along the border to reduce illegal traffic and stop TCOs and criminals in their tracks.
  • Since barriers went up, illegal traffic dropped 92 percent in San Diego, 95 percent in El Paso, 90 percent in Tucson, and 95 percent in Yuma, respectively.

Detect & Stop Bad Actors and Illicit Goods from Entering the United States

  • The House should advance H.R. 3377, the Biometric Identification Transnational Migration Alert Program (BITMAP) Authorization Act of 2019, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) introduced earlier this year. H.R. 3377 authorizes ICE’s BITMAP program, which facilitates information sharing across countries to identify known or suspected terrorists and other potential bad actors who are traveling on illicit pathways toward the United States.
  • The House should advance H.R. 3719 the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) Reauthorization Act of 2019, introduced by Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.), which updates CTPAT, CBP’s flagship international supply chain security program, reauthorizing the program for the first time in more than 13 years.

Coordinate a Unity of Effort Campaign to Combat & Dismantle TCOs

  • The House should advance H.R. 3273, the Combating TCOs Act of 2019 introduced by Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.), which establishes interagency task forces led by DHS components to work with international, state, local, tribal, and other agency counterparts to create a holistic approach to combating and dismantling TCOs that operate across U.S. borders.

Boost Manpower at the Border

  • The House should advance H.R. 1609 the Anti-Border Corruption Improvement Act, introduced by Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), which seeks to expedite the hiring process for CBP applicants by giving the CBP Commissioner the authority to waive the polygraph test for a narrow set of applicants including veterans and state, local, and federal law enforcement officers.