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Public Statements

Jaime Zapata Border Enforcement Security Task Force Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Unknown

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Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Speaker, today I am supporting H.R. 915, the Jaime Zapata Border Enforcement Security Task Force Act. This measure would establish Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) teams within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to facilitate ``collaboration among federal, state, local, tribal, and foreign law enforcement agencies to execute coordinated activities in furtherance of border security, and homeland security'' and enhance information sharing among the agencies.

This mission is a very important one. And I encourage DHS to consult with local and state law enforcement on how these teams could best be used to fill gaps in border security.

I am particularly concerned about a proposal to close several interior border patrol stations. As an example, from 2007 through 2011 Border Patrol agents assigned to the Amarillo station made from 383 to 745 apprehensions per year. Despite this volume, the Border Patrol proposed closing its Amarillo station--along with eight other interior stations, six of them in Texas. The absence of the Amarillo interior Border Patrol station would leave no federal agency for hundreds of miles to take custody of illegal aliens or to assist local law enforcement with investigations.

I do not know whether the BEST teams authorized in this measure could fulfill the responsibilities of the border patrol stations that are proposed for closure. But I strongly recommend that DHS continue to examine ways to ensure that this vital federal responsibility is fulfilled.

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