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Thursday, May 6th, 2021

Bill targets border drug trafficking

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Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) introduced last week the Eradicate Crossing of Illegal Tunnels (EXIT) Act, which expedites efforts to address cross border tunnels, removing red tape preventing law enforcement from acting.

Hartzler said the bill would empower Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) personnel.

“Our southern border has become overrun by human and drug traffickers who have profited off both innocent children and America’s drug epidemic,” Hartzler said. “The EXIT Act targets our border vulnerabilities and expedites a long, bureaucratic, and unnecessary process of filling these smuggling tunnels. With this legislation, our communities become better protected from the influx of harmful, illegal drugs, and our border patrol agents see much-needed relief towards securing our nation.”

The measure would grant the Secretary of Homeland Security the authority to waive federal, state, and local environmental permits and reviews necessary to remediate unlawful border tunnels.

Hartzler said waiting for environmental reviews of drug tunnels that have already disturbed the ground and will ultimately be filled with concrete is unnecessary and threatens our national security and that it also allows for CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to enter into indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts. Currently, CBP must put the contract out for bid for every single tunnel instead of utilizing an indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract allowing contractors to be on hand to more quickly fill border tunnels.

The measure will also amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to clarify CBP has the authority to search for and remediate all unlawful cross-border tunnels while patrolling the border.