WASHINGTON D.C. - October 22, 2007 – Science and Technology Committee Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-TX) today introduced important legislation to help keep U.S. borders secure. H.R. 3916 expands on current border patrol efforts by focusing on the development of technologies to improve our patrol agents’ ability to detect and prevent drug traffickers, terrorists, as well as illegal immigrants from entering the U.S.
“We must completely close and protect our borders and take all necessary steps to keep our borders impenetrable,” Hall said. “This bill will ensure support for science and technology programs that aid our border patrol efforts. Developing technologies to help border agents with this daunting task is an important step.”
In fiscal year 2005, US Border Patrol agents apprehended 1.19 million people attempting to enter the country illegally. Over 26,000 kilograms of marijuana were seized in northern Border States in 2005, while over 30,000 kilograms of cocaine, heroine, and methamphetamine were seized within 150 miles of the US/Mexico border in 2006.
H.R. 3916 focuses on three key long-term technologies that could substantially improve the security of our nation’s borders:
- Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)
- Tunnel Detection
- Anti-counterfeit Technology
Use of UAVs currently requires extensive planning and coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to operate safely within the National Airspace. This bill instructs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to work with the FAA to allow regular operations of UAVs. It also requires DHS to create a formal research program in the detection of tunnels used to smuggle people, narcotics, and other goods into the country. And finally, the bill directs DHS to continue research to counter the use of counterfeit documentation for cargo and persons.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity, and Science and Technology is an original cosponsor, along with Democratic cosponsors Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) and Technology and Innovation Subcommittee Chairman David Wu (D-OR).
The following Republicans have also signed on as original cosponsors: Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD); Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA); Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA); Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX); Rep. Michael Conaway (R-TX); Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL); Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA); Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC); Rep Sam Johnson (R-TX); Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC); Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX); Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI); Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX); and Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE).