Senate bill would authorize $925 million for border security
Mar 7, 2003 12:00 PM
A bill that would authorize $925 million for new investment in US border crossings has been introduced in the Senate, according to information from the office of Sen Pete Domenici, R-NM, a sponsor of the bill. The legislation, if eventually successful, would complement the Port and Maritime Security Act enacted by Congress last fall, and is written to clear the way for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to deploy advanced technology at border crossings to increase security and improve cross-border trade.
The bill includes six primary components, including dedicating $500 million over the next five years (2004-2008) to begin a long-standing backlog of border crossing infrastructure upgrades. The bill authorizes $100 million a year for border infrastructure and technology upgrades.
The bill authorizes $30 million for 2004 to expand the size and scope of Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) programs on the northern and southwestern borders, including industry partnership programs such as the Business Anti-Smuggling Coalition (BASC), the Carrier Initiative Program (CIP), the Americas Counter Smuggling Initiative (ACSI), and the Container Security Initiative (CSI).
In other areas, the bill authorizes increasing the number of US Customs inspectors and associated support staff in the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection by the equivalent of at least 200 full-time employees, and agents in the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement by the equivalent of 100 full-time employees, each year for 2004-2008. It also supports ongoing border personnel hiring and training.
The bill also would direct the Undersecretary for Border and Transportation Security of the Department of Homeland Security to create and annually update a National Land Border Security Plan in consultation with federal, state and local law enforcement, and members of private industry involved in cross-border trade on the Northern and Southwestern borders.
It also establishes between three and five port-of-entry demonstration sites through Customs to carry out port-of-entry technology demonstration programs to test, evaluate and refine port-of-entry technologies and operational concepts, and train personnel under realistic conditions.
Other senators sponsoring the bill include Byron Dorgan D-ND, Jon Kyl R-AZ, Dianne Feinstein D-CA, Lisa Murkowski R-AK, John McCain R-AZ, Conrad Burns R-MT, Kay Bailey Hutchison R-TX, and Patty Murray D-WA. Rep. Jim Kolbe R-AZ is expected to introduce a companion bill in the House of Representatives.