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house Bill H.R. 6740

Should the Feds Establish Inter-Agency Task Forces to Fight Border Tunnels Used for Drug Trafficking?

Argument in favor

Trafficking across the U.S.-Mexico border through tunnels is a major problem, with drugs, people, and guns entering the U.S. on a daily basis. Creating inter-agency Border Tunnel Task Forces will help coordinate and strengthen law enforcement’s response to this problem.

Catherine's Opinion
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09/25/2018
They should also establish a working relationship with the Mexican authorities so that we can work together with them to deter this problem. This is an opportunity for cooperation and common goals between America and Mexico.
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Daniel's Opinion
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09/24/2018
I think they need to use the same tracking as use in Area 51 and use satellites.
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Jennifer's Opinion
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09/24/2018
Trafficking across the U.S.-Mexico border through tunnels is a major problem, with drugs, people, and guns entering the U.S. on a daily basis. Creating inter-agency Border Tunnel Task Forces will help coordinate and strengthen law enforcement’s response to this problem.
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Argument opposed

Both DHS and ICE already have tunnel task forces. Additionally, there are already some inter-agency task forces in action in jurisdictions have been hardest-hit by the drug tunnel problem, such as San Diego, so this bill isn’t necessary.

Zachary's Opinion
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09/25/2018
Decriminalize drugs and we won't have that problem as bad...
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burrkitty's Opinion
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09/24/2018
Unnecessary duplication of effort. This already exists. Give the money to the DHS programs that already do this.
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Fragadactilobs's Opinion
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09/25/2018
Nah we should just legalize drugs. This is stupid, why are we wasting money on this? It’s supply and demand, people are gonna get drugs somewhere. May as well not criminalize it. Spend the money on rehabilitation.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
  • The house Passed September 25th, 2018
    Passed by Voice Vote
      house Committees
      Committee on Homeland Security
    IntroducedSeptember 7th, 2018

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What is House Bill H.R. 6740?

This bill — known as the Border Tunnel Task Force Act — would establish Border Tunnel Task Forces that integrate border security efforts across federal, state, and local agencies in jurisdictions where they can contribute to border security. Jurisdictions would be evaluated for the establishment of a task force by evaluating: 1) whether they’re significantly impacted by cross-border threats, and 2) the availability of federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement resources to participate in Border Tunnel Task Forces.

Border Tunnel Task forces would aim to enhance and integrate border security efforts by addressing and reducing cross-border tunnel-related threats and violence. They’d seek to: 1) facilitate collaboration among federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to execute coordinated activities in the interests of homeland and border security, and 2) enhance information-sharing, including the dissemination of homeland security information, among federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies.

Border Tunnel Task Forces may be comprised of:

  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), including the U.S. Border Patrol;

  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), including Homeland Security Investigations;

  • Personnel from other DHS components and offices;

  • Federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies; and

  • Other appropriate personnel at the DHS Secretary’s discretion.

Impact

Border states; drug cartels; smugglers; federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; and Dept. of Homeland Security.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 6740

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) introduced this bill to establish Border Tunnel Task forces to secure the U.S.’ southern border and crack down on illegal substances’ smuggling into the country:

“Since 1990, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has discovered approximately 200 sophisticated drug-smuggling tunnels crossing from Mexico directly into the United States. Each of these tunnels provide the opportunity for thousands of pounds of narcotics, like heroin, and dangerous criminals who deal in human trafficking to freely cross our southern border.  These tunnels are not only expensive to destroy once discovered, but they can also be difficult to detect without the sophisticated equipment or intelligence that keeps law enforcement officers one step ahead of the deadly cartels who build them. This is why I introduced legislation to establish border tunnel task forces, comprised of Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and local law enforcement, in areas where enhanced information sharing and law enforcement action would contribute to border security. It is my hope that the establishment of these specialized law enforcement groups will help fuel collaboration among federal, state, and local law enforcement to crack down on those who continue to enter our country illegally and seek to harm our communities.”

Scott Brown, a special agent in the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) division, says tunnel activity has increased since border security was tightened in the 2000s:

“Tunnels are a time consuming venture but [their incidence] has definitely increased since the border security measures have ramped up. One of the things that tunnelling does tell us, is that as we increase infrastructure, resources, patrol – that’s forcing them to go to more costly routes into the US.”

Mike Vigil, the former head of international operations at the DEA, says the “U.S.-Mexico border is literally riddled with tunnels. [Drug cartels] have to move those drugs across the border and probably the most secure method is through the use of tunnels.” Vigil estimates that for every tunnel authorities find, about 10 go undetected. He calls tunnels a smuggling method with an “average lifespan [that[ could be perpetual… unless you have specific information from a human source, or there’s unusual activity detected that would warrant a closer look,” and argues that tunnels are “a smuggling method that will probably continue and probably increase in the future, especially with the increased border patrols and the surveillance that is taking place along the border."

This legislation passed the House Committee on Homeland Security by unanimous consent with the support of one cosponsor, who is also a Republican.


Of NoteThe first cross-border tunnel was discovered in May 1990, and the number of tunnels increased dramatically in 2001. According to ICE, 152 tunnels were discovered from 2001-2011.

Some border tunnel task forces already exist. The San Diego Tunnel Task Forceestablished in 2003 and made up of representatives from CBP, ICE, the DEA, and the California National Guard, uncovered a sophisticated 600-yard underground cross-border tunnel in 2010 which was linked to approximately 300 tons of marijuana that’d been seized in the U.S. and Mexico. Additionally, the HSI has a tunnel task force, and CBP has a tunnel detection and technology program.

Smuggling groups use tunnels to move drugs, guns, and people who want to sneak across the U.S. border. Experts say sophisticated tunnels are mostly used for drug and gun smuggling, though people who don’t want to risk travelling above ground will also occasionally be smuggled through these tunnels as well. Cocaine and methamphetamine are brought into the U.S. through tunnels, but marijuana  is the most prevalent drug transported through the tunnels.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: DVIDSHUB via Flickr / Creative Commons)

AKA

Border Tunnel Task Force Act

Official Title

To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to establish Border Tunnel Task Forces, and for other purposes.

    They should also establish a working relationship with the Mexican authorities so that we can work together with them to deter this problem. This is an opportunity for cooperation and common goals between America and Mexico.
    Like (19)
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    Decriminalize drugs and we won't have that problem as bad...
    Like (29)
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    Unnecessary duplication of effort. This already exists. Give the money to the DHS programs that already do this.
    Like (26)
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    Nah we should just legalize drugs. This is stupid, why are we wasting money on this? It’s supply and demand, people are gonna get drugs somewhere. May as well not criminalize it. Spend the money on rehabilitation.
    Like (23)
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    How much does an impeachment cost?
    Like (16)
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    I think they need to use the same tracking as use in Area 51 and use satellites.
    Like (7)
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    Already there, no duplication when we need infrastructure more
    Like (7)
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    Trafficking across the U.S.-Mexico border through tunnels is a major problem, with drugs, people, and guns entering the U.S. on a daily basis. Creating inter-agency Border Tunnel Task Forces will help coordinate and strengthen law enforcement’s response to this problem.
    Like (6)
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    Education education education programs
    Like (5)
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    Not unless they’re going to use the $1.5 TRILLION from the billionaire’s tax cut! How much further in debt are those assholes going to put us?
    Like (3)
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    This is an ongoing operation so this is a duplication. Vote nay
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    ANOTHER REPUBLICAN EXCUSE TO SPEND OUR HARD EARNED TAX DOLLARS ON A PROBLEM THAT DOES NOT EXIST! WE ALREADY HAVE THE TRAITOR-IN-CHIEF AND HIS SERIEL KILLER AND RAPIST BORDER PATROL EATING UP OUR MONEY--NOW THEY WANT TO SPEND MORE??? THIS IS RIDICULOUS, ESPECIALLY BECAUSE THE GREATEST NUMBER OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS COME INTO THIS COUNTRY FROM ASIA BY PLANE! AND THIS WOUD BE ADDED TO HIS TOTALLY IDIOTIC BORDER WALL AS WELL--YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT A MORON WHO ACTUALLY TOLD THE SPANISH THAT THEY SHOULD BUILD A BORDER WALL ACROSS THE SAHARA, FOR GOD'S SAKE!
    Like (3)
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    We need a comprehensive and interagency effort to prevent human trafficking, drug trafficking, and illegal immigration.
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    I don’t think we need to duplicate funds for the same thing both DEA and ICE already have. Just another “look at me” bill
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    Gee whiz, this should be a no brainier. Unless, hard left people expect drug sellers to vote.
    Like (3)
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    Without a doubt. Shut down the drug trade. These people are monsters that feed off the addictions and weaknesses of others. It's time we put them out of business and the best way to do that is through border security!
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    Just do what american people voted for in the last election to secure our boarder just build the wall.
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    NO. Legalize marijuana & the need to use other drugs will be lessened so much that the source will go away.
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    Stop the drugs! Drugs are destroying our country!
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    Whatever it takes; in conjunction with the WALL, Border Patrol, ICE, US Marshall’s, etc. I understand the illegals are all but stampeding over the border. By the time CONGRESS/SENATE approve the full amount of the wall budget, it could be impossible to round up all illegals.
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