GOP Senators file bill to fund parts of wall, increase Border Patrol and ICE agents

U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), John Barrasso (R-WY), Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) today introduced the Building America’s Trust Act, legislation that increases resources at our borders, boosts trade through ports of entry, and strengthens enforcement of existing laws. A summary of the legislation is available here.

“For too long law enforcement on the front lines haven’t had the tools they need to stop the flow of illegal immigration, and this bill will provide both the resources and plan to finally secure the border,” said Sen. Cornyn. “This legislation requires DHS to work together with the communities they serve, and helps boost the flow of commerce through our ports so trade can continue to flourish. I’m grateful for the partnership of my colleagues on this legislation, and I look forward to continuing to work with folks in Texas and Congress to advance this bill.”

“Until our borders are fully secure, the current system will continue to reward people who enter our country illegally over those who follow the law,” said Sen. Barrasso. “This bill will make sure our immigration officers have the tools and resources they need to enforce our laws and secure our borders.”

“The first step in securing our borders and reforming our immigration system is to eliminate the incentives for individuals to enter the country illegally. By closing current loopholes in immigration enforcement, hiring more border security personnel, and deploying additional technology and tactical infrastructure, the Building America’s Trust Act will mitigate threats to our country by helping to secure the border,” said Sen. Johnson.

“Our government’s prolonged failure to secure the border has had severe consequences, including creating a humanitarian crisis and contributing to the rise of dangerous narcoterrorist organizations that have exacerbated our nation’s heroin and opioid epidemic,” said Senator Tillis. “The Building America’s Trust Act makes the investment we need in personnel, technology and infrastructure to secure our borders and ports of entry and reduce threats to our national security.”

The legislation would authorize approximately $15 billion over 4 years for a long-term border security and interior enforcement strategy, strengthening existing legal authorities and increasing public safety.

Below is a summary of the bill:

Securing Our Borders

• Smart, Multilayered Infrastructure— Authorizes and requires the deployment of multi-layered tactical infrastructure across the full Southern Border, which at the DHS Secretary’s discretion could include a wall system, fencing, levees, technology, or other physical barriers. Requires the DHS Secretary to consult with local stakeholders and deploy the most effective and practical means of achieving operational control (apprehension of illegal border crossers) and situational awareness (persistent surveillance) in every sector of the Southern Border.

• Faster, More Efficient Ports of Entry — Includes a massive resource investment to improve our ports of entry. Targets illegal immigration and drug trafficking at ports, while facilitating increased legitimate trade and travel.

• Additional Boots on the Ground — Increases the number of Border Patrol agents, Custom and Border Protection Officers at ports, agricultural inspectors, ICE officers, immigration judges, and federal prosecutors.

• Stronger Border Law Enforcement — Increases resources available for state and local law enforcement to aggressively fight drug trafficking, smuggling, and other crimes on the Southern Border. Creates new criminal penalties and tools for law enforcement to target transnational criminal organizations. Authorizes partnerships between DHS and state and local law enforcement to help identify and remove criminal illegal immigrants.

• Prevents Humanitarian Crises on the Southern Border—Directly addresses unaccompanied minors who illegally cross the border by requiring them to be swiftly screened by an immigration judge to determine if they have a legal claim to remain in the United States or voluntarily returned to their home country.

Strengthening Enforcement of Existing Immigration Laws

• Zero Tolerance for Criminals and National Security Threats — Ends “catch and release” of criminal illegal immigrants and repeat immigration violators. Gives DHS additional tools to investigate, apprehend, and swiftly remove criminals from the United States. Includes Kate’s Law to lock up aggravated felons who repeatedly cross our borders illegally. Includes enhanced measures to bar terrorists and national security threats from entering the United States.

• Prohibits Sanctuary Cities— Holds sanctuary cities accountable for helping criminals by imposing tough penalties on federal funds for jurisdictions who fail to comply with lawful federal immigration enforcement requests.

• Targets Visa Overstays — Identifies visa overstays through full deployment of the Biometric Entry-Exit System at ports of entry, while cutting off all immigration benefits to those who abuse our visa system.

• Enhanced Vetting to Protect the Homeland—Increases visa security and background checks for individuals seeking to enter the United States from foreign countries.

The Building America’s Trust Act has been endorsed by the National Border Patrol Council, National Association of Police Organizations, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Coalition, Southwestern Border Sheriff’s Coalition, Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition, and National Sheriffs’ Association.

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