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Public Statements

Border Security Information Improvement Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. CANSECO. I want to thank my friend and colleague and fellow San Antonian--the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Mr. Smith--as well as his diligent and hardworking staff, for their help on this very important matter.

I come to the floor today, Madam Speaker, in support of my legislation, H.R. 6368, the Border Security Information Improvement Act.

As the Representative of a district with nearly 800 miles of U.S.-Mexico border, I know firsthand how important the security of our citizens along our shared border with Mexico is. As I visit with the people of the 23rd District of Texas, I hear time and time again from Americans living along the border that they do not feel safe or secure. They talk of living in fear. They tell me that Washington is not paying attention as drugs, weapons, and humans are smuggled through their communities. Washington is not listening as they ask for help as violence from Mexican drug cartels spills into their communities and cities and towns.

Many of the statistics and information used to make claims about the security of our southwest border are based on information from sources, such as the Uniform Crime Report, that are not intended to measure security along our border.

Administration officials have claimed that the border is safe and secure. Yet, while attending a Homeland Security Committee hearing last May, I learned that the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice do not have a working, uniform definition of ``spillover violence.'' Yet witnesses at the hearing--high-ranking officials from Justice and Homeland Security--stated that there is no cross-border violence.

This is completely unacceptable. If the Federal Government cannot even define what endangers border citizens, we cannot ensure their safety. H.R. 6368 is simple. It is straightforward. It is a bill that will address this very problem.

It directs the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security to submit a report to Congress on their ability to define, to track, to investigate, and to quantify cross-border, or spillover, violence.

The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security will furthermore report what information and statistics are available and that are at their disposal in order to understand the amount of violence spilling into the United States. The ability to correctly monitor the level of spillover violence occurring across our Nation's borders will allow us to assess the success of our border security policies and to ensure that we have the correct policies in place in order to stop violence, stop drugs and contraband from spilling into the United States.

Lastly, the Departments will recommend to Congress what additional resources are necessary in order to track, quantify, and report on cross-border violence so that Congress can do its part and ensure that our Federal law enforcement agencies have the tools and the data that they need to do their jobs. Congress must be a willing and able partner in the fight against the ruthless Mexican cartels and the violence that they bring into our American communities.

Madam Speaker, the American people deserve to know the capability of their government to address cross-border violence. This bill does not seek to prove that one party is right or that one party is wrong. It simply seeks to find out the ability of the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to define, to track, and to understand the amount of violence spilling into the United States from Mexico. In order to achieve a secure border, we must be able to correctly gauge the amount of violence that is spilling into the United States, and I believe that this bill is an important first step in that direction.

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