Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo.) joined with U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Gang of Eight member Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) today to introduce an amendment to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of border security provisions in the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S.744). The bipartisan proposal would provide unprecedented people and equipment to secure the border, and the amendment seeks to ensure that those investments include the smartest technologies and the assets best-suited for the region where they are deployed.
"Hardworking Coloradans will only accept a pathway to earned citizenship for the millions living in the shadows if our border is secure. And effectively securing our borders means more than just providing resources: We need to make sure we're using the right tools and deploying them in the most efficient way possible," Udall said. "I am proud to join Senators Carper and McCain because this amendment would go a long way toward making sure that our investments in border security are smart investments that ensure the Border Patrol uses the latest technology available to continue strengthening our border."
"As I have learned on my numerous trips to our borders and ports of entry, there is simply no 'one size fits all' solution for improving our security efforts at our borders and ports of entry," Carper said. "That is why we need to systematically identify the best technologies that allow us to use our frontline agents more effectively and give them the tools they need to be successful. This amendment would strengthen the border security measures already in the legislation by helping achieve persistent surveillance over our entire border and ports of entry, so we can know with a high degree of certainty how many people are trying to cross illegally but without hampering visitors or the flow of commerce. This amendment is a practical and cost-efficient approach that helps the Department of Homeland Security take a common sense, needs-based approach to bolstering our security efforts along our borders and ports of entry."
"I am proud to join Senators Carper and Udall in introducing this cost-saving, good government amendment that would ensure the border security resources authorized and outlined in the immigration bill are used appropriately," McCain said. "The immigration reform bill provides for a tremendous increase in resources for border security, cementing our resolve to get the job done -- it makes sense to protect the American taxpayer with this amendment that requires the Department of Homeland Security to carry out the implementation of the border security efforts in the most efficient and effective manner possible."
Between the ports of entry, amendment #1558 would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to review each border patrol sector and station to determine what technologies are most effective to best address illegal cross-border traffic in that region. Each review would require a cost-benefit analysis and life-cycle cost assessment of any new technology proposed for that section of the border. Additionally, performance metrics must be established to assess the effectiveness of any new equipment purchases.
The amendment would require DHS to deploy need-based mobile, fixed, and man-portable surveillance systems, air assets, including fixed and rotary wing aircraft, unmanned aerial systems, and tethered aerostats along the border in order to achieve 24/7 surveillance. The amendment would ensure that, to the greatest extent practicable, all air assets are equipped with sensors in order to better identify activity on the ground. The Department would also be required to streamline its fleet of aircraft in order to generate savings in maintenance costs and training costs.
The amendment also calls for smart investments at the ports of entry to ensure that the officers at these vital crossing points have the tools they need to combat illegal traffic while more efficiently processing legal travelers and goods. The amendment would direct the Department to consult with officers in the field and review needs at the ports of entry to guide investments. It would ensure that officials at our ports of entry have the flexibility to choose a wide variety of technology to help increase situational awareness and facilitate commerce.