Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) recently visited McAllen, Texas, to assess the situation along the southern border, meeting with law enforcement officials, landowners, agriculture producers, and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers.
Challenges and resources needed to secure the border in a smart, effective and cost-efficient way were discussed during the senator’s trip.
“Whether it’s farmers facing the threat of a wall cutting through their land, law enforcement officers combating the flow of drugs through our ports, or Border Patrol agents dealing with a serious humanitarian problem, it’s clear we’ve got to use everything in our toolbox to secure our borders in an effective, cost-efficient, and humane way,” Tester said.
Tester viewed existing portions of the border barrier and fencing structures; toured the Rio Grande River by boat to view the terrain Border Patrol agents must traverse in order to apprehend people crossing the border; heard feedback from landowners on the President’s proposed border wall, which would run through or near their property; and toured a family farm along the Rio Grande River that would be bisected by the proposed border wall, locking the farmer out of 500 acres of his property.
At the beginning of this year, Tester was appointed to the Conference Committee, which was charged with striking a budget deal to fund the government and avoid another shutdown. The final funding legislation closely mirrored the initial Department of Homeland Security budget Tester crafted last year, providing almost $15 billion for Customs and Border Protection, more than $600 million worth of investments in border technology, and more than $1.3 billion to repair and construct barriers at the border.