Tester: We Must Secure Our Borders

Senator to Homeland Security Secretary: Don't Infringe on Private Property Rights

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester today told Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly that a comprehensive approach is needed to strengthen border security and issued a warning about violating private property rights as the White House pursues building a wall between the United States and Mexico.

Tester pushed Kelly during a Homeland Security Committee hearing to produce a border security plan that includes more than just a concrete wall and Tester said that a comprehensive plan must be put forward by the administration before any more taxpayer money is appropriated for such a sweeping project. Tester is also the Ranking Member of the appropriations subcommittee that determines funding levels for the Homeland Security Department-including border security.

“The President and I agree, we must secure our borders,” said Tester, following the hearing. “And we have to be smart about this. It’s the 21st Century and we should be using the modern technology at our fingertips to keep this nation safe. And we have to make sure any border security measures are fiscally responsible and respect private property rights.”

Tester also asked Kelly how eminent domain, the government’s process for seizing private property from landowners, will be implemented along the southern border. Kelly responded that eminent domain will be issued to private land owners “judiciously.”

“If you want to get people’s attention in rural America, talk about eminent domain,” Tester responded. “If someone tried to eminent domain my place, they would have to take me off in a box because I wouldn’t let them do it.”

Tester additionally asked Kelly to continue to prioritize the security concerns along Montana’s 540-mile northern border.

Tester last month expressed the need for additional patrols to fully secure the northern border. The National Border Patrol Council told Tester that 1,500 additional Border Patrol agents are needed along the United States’ border with Canada.