WASHINGTON—Legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) to combat illegal tunnel activity has passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate and now heads to President Obama for his signature.
“This bill provides law enforcement and prosecutors with additional tools to locate tunnels, identify criminals and punish those involved in illegal activity,” Senator Feinstein said. “Our border states know all too well how criminals will stop at nothing to get drugs, weapons and people across—and even under—our borders. I’ve seen border tunnels first-hand in San Diego. They are much more than simple holes in the ground. Some of them have elevators, electric rail tracks, even a hydraulically controlled steel door. Our borders are our first line of defense. In the interest of national security, we must prevent the construction of secret, underground passageways into the United States.”
“Of the 135 illegal tunnels uncovered over the past decade, all but one have originated in Mexico, and exited in Arizona, California, or Texas,” said Senator Kyl. “These passages afford smugglers an unfettered means to illegally transport people and narcotics into our country. Not only does this pose a serious danger to the people who use the tunnels, but also to our national security. I urge the president to quickly sign this bipartisan bill into law so that federal authorities can step up their efforts against this growing problem.”
The Border Tunnel Prevention Act of 2011 will:
- Make the use, construction or financing of a border tunnel a conspiracy offense;
- Include illegal tunneling as an offense eligible for Title III wiretaps even when there are not drugs or other contraband to facilitate a wiretap;
- Specify border tunnel activity as unlawful under the existing forfeiture and money laundering provisions to allow authorities to seize assets in these cases.
The Border Tunnel Prevention Act of 2011 also has a number of reporting requirements. S. 1236 was co-sponsored by Senators Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).
For more information on border tunnels, click here.