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Public Statements

Border Tunnel Prevention Act of 2012

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. DREIER. Madam Speaker, illegal border tunnels pose a risk to our national security and undermine our efforts to protect the border. The threat lies not only in the illegal trafficking of drugs and humans, but also in the potential exploitation by terrorists. That is why I rise in support of H.R. 4119, the Border Tunnel Prevention Act of 2012. In 2006, I authored the House version of the original Border Tunnel Prevention Act, which criminalized the construction of illegal border tunnels into the United States with fines and imprisonment of up to 20 years. The law also carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years for those who recklessly allow others to build these tunnels on their land. In addition, the law doubled the sentence for using a tunnel to smuggle aliens, weapons, drugs, terrorists or illegal goods.

While the Border Tunnel Prevention Act of 2006 gave law enforcement agencies powerful tools to combat the construction of illegal border tunnels, they are still being used by criminals to smuggle drugs and other materials into our country. For example, last fall, in my home state of California, I was troubled to learn that an elaborate tunnel was discovered in San Diego that linked to a warehouse in Tijuana. The tunnel contained wooden flooring, a rail system and an elevator. Its discovery led to the seizure of more than 32 tons of marijuana. Unfortunately, this is just one example of the more than 40 tunnels that have been discovered in California in the last five years. H.R. 4119 will give law enforcement additional ability to investigate and prosecute criminals using these tunnels. The bill also prohibits attempts to use, construct or finance a cross border tunnel. Finally, it provides for the forfeiture of cash and merchandise that is illegally brought into our country through a tunnel.

Madam Speaker, H.R. 4119 is a common sense solution that helps combat those who attempt to illegally bring goods into our country. I urge all my colleagues to support this important legislation.

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