This week, I was proud to announce that legislation I authored passed both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, and the bill is now headed to President Barack Obama's desk for his signature. The Border Tunnel Prevention Act of 2012, which strengthens existing legislation that criminalizes the use, construction, and financing of cross-border tunnels, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives by a strong bi-partisan vote of 416 to 4 and passed the in the Senate by unanimous consent.
This bill is now two steps 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. 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 in the current law 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.
I 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.