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California's 40th District

May 18, 2023 | In The News

FIRST ON FOX: Rep. Young Kim, R-Calif., is introducing bipartisan legislation that would compel the Department of Homeland Security to create a comprehensive strategy to secure the southern border — including a review of security risks and tools for combating fentanyl trafficking.

The Comprehensive Southern Border Strategy Act would require the DHS secretary to submit a “comprehensive southern border strategy” within 12 months to the Homeland Security Committees in the House and Senate.

The bill was co-sponsored by Reps. Chris Pappas, D-N.H., Michael Guest, R-Miss., and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, D-Wash.

The strategy would include a review of the agency’s technology, tools and other methods at its disposal to combat drug trafficking — including fentanyl, which is tied to tens of thousands of American deaths each year. It would also require a review of the agency’s abilities to combat human trafficking by cartels and other organizations.

The strategy would include a list of physical barriers and tools that are available to achieve and maintain “situational awareness and operational control” at the border, as well as a projected per mile cost estimate for using those tools and barriers and a detailed account of which type or protection is necessary for each mile. DHS would also provide a justification when a more expensive method was used.

The information would be collected and evaluated by top CBP officials, appropriate state governors, local law enforcement officials, private property owners and other stakeholders.

The bipartisan move comes as Congress has largely been in a partisan stalemate on the question of border security and how to handle the ongoing migrant crisis at the southern border. Republicans have blamed the recent surge in migration on the policies of the Biden administration, while the administration has called on Congress to provide more funding and pass an immigration reform bill.

The legislation comes just days after the end of Title 42, a public health order that allowed for the rapid expulsion of migrants at the southern border. It has raised bipartisan concerns about a new surge in migration. Numbers surged ahead of the ending of the order, but have dropped in recent days — although the administration cautioned about assuming numbers would not increase in the weeks ahead.

“Under the Biden administration, the border crisis has reached unprecedented levels, straining our resources, emboldening cartel organizations, turning a blind eye to illegal immigration, and undermining legal immigration. As Title 42 comes to an end, the Biden administration must take the border crisis seriously and Congress must act to secure our border,” Kim said in a statement. “We cannot kick the can down the road any longer. Border security is national security, and I am proud to work in a bipartisan way to ensure that our federal government –regardless of who is leading the administration –makes border security a priority and evaluates how we can best secure operational control of every mile of our border.”

Pappas said that he had urged the administration to prepare for the end of Title 42 and present a plan to Congress.

“Political inaction in Washington has contributed to the broken immigration system, and it is time for us to work together across the aisle on solutions,” he said. “This bipartisan legislation would compel DHS to develop a comprehensive overview of the security risks at our border and review the technology and tools we should implement to prevent drug trafficking. We must ensure operational control at the border and give border agents the resources they need to humanely and expeditiously process migrant claims.”

The legislation also received the backing of California’s Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes, who highlighted the “flood of fentanyl that has endangered the lives of far too many.”

“This bipartisan legislation will help ensure the right policies and resources are in place to secure our border,” he said.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released its monthly data for April on Wednesday, which showed there were 211,401 migrant encounters by CBP in April, down 11% from the 235,785 seen in April 2022 and up 10% from the 191,956 seen in March 2023. The administration has said that there are already signs that its current plan of increasing Title 8 penalties while opening legal pathways and cooperating with Mexico is working.

“Already, with the Title 42 order gone and our plan to humanely manage the border in full effect, the number of unlawful border crossings has dropped by more than 60 percent. It’s still early, but we remain focused on implementing our robust plan to humanely manage the border through enforcement, deterrence, and diplomacy,” an administration official told Fox News Digital.


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