Today, a bill authored by Congressman Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas), the Border Tunnel Prevention Act of 2012, which strengthens existing legislation that criminalizes the use, construction, and financing of cross-border tunnels, passed the U.S. Senate and is now headed to President Barack Obama's desk for his signature and enactment. The U.S. House of Representatives passed Congressman Reyes' bill on Wednesday by a strong bi-partisan vote of 416 to 4.
This legislation will further deter tunnel activities by providing enhanced investigative tools to law enforcement and increasing options for the prosecution of these crimes.
"For a second day in a row, this bill is one step closer to becoming law, and I am thankful to my colleagues in both the House and Senate for supporting this important legislation to help prevent illicit narcotics and other contraband from entering our country," Congressman Reyes said. "Under current law, attempting or conspiring to use, construct or finance a cross-border tunnel is not prohibited, allowing criminal organizations to continue digging secret passageways that could be used to funnel drugs, firearms, cash, and people between the U.S. and Mexico with little risk of prosecution.
"The 2012 Border Tunnel Prevention Act is an important piece of legislation that will close loopholes and drastically improve the tools available to investigate and prosecute individuals who construct cross-border tunnels, as well as allow for the forfeiture of bulk cash and merchandise that enters the United States through these illegal channels," Congressman Reyes said.
Congressman Reyes worked closely with Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and Senator Diane Feinstein (D-California), Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, as well as other Members of Congress from border communities to move this legislation forward.
H.R. 4119 is bipartisan legislation and is similar to U.S. Senate bill S. 1236 introduced by Senator Feinstein (D-California), which was passed by the Senate on January 30, 2012. The bill now goes before President Obama's desk to be signed and enacted into law