On Visit to Southern Border, Tester Talks Border Security with Law Enforcement, Local Agricultural Producers

Senator was in McAllen, Texas to visit U.S.-Mexico border, discuss challenges & potential solutions with Customs & Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security, and farmers whose land will be impacted by a wall

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester touched down in McAllen, Texas on Sunday to get a firsthand look at the situation on the southern border. Tester spent the last two days meeting with law enforcement officials, land owners, agriculture producers, and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers to discuss the challenges they face and determine what resources they need to secure the border in a smart, effective, and cost-efficient way.

“For the last 36 hours, I’ve been meeting face-to-face with folks on the ground to hear firsthand about the challenges they face in securing our southern border and determine how we in Washington can help find solutions,” Tester said. “Whether it’s farmers facing the threat of a wall cutting through their land, law enforcement officers combating the flow of drugs through our ports, or Border Patrol agents dealing with a serious humanitarian problem, it’s clear we’ve got to use everything in our toolbox to secure our borders in an effective, cost-efficient, and humane way.”

Tester spent Sunday and Monday touring the southern border with CBP officials, where he:

  • Viewed existing portions of the border barrier and fencing structures.
  • Toured the Rio Grande River by boat to view the terrain Border Patrol agents must traverse in order to apprehend people crossing the border.
  • Heard feedback from landowners on the President’s proposed border wall, which would run through or near their property.
  • Toured a family farm along the Rio Grande River that would be bisected by President Trump’s proposed border wall, locking the farmer out of 500 acres of his own property.
  • Visited the Hidalgo Port of Entry to see how vehicles are inspected and passengers display identifying documents as they enter the U.S.
  • Visited the Pharr International Bridge Point of Entry to observe the inspection of commercial trucks and cargo containers to ensure that agricultural goods are scanned and processed for safe consumption and pose no threat to domestic producers and consumers.
  • Visited the nation’s largest immigration processing center where unaccompanied children and families are temporarily housed after illegally crossing the border to seek asylum.

As Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, Tester is the top Senate Democrat responsible for funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)-the primary agency responsible for border security. Tester will use his experience at the border over the last two days to help craft a new DHS budget for FY2020 in the coming months.

In January, Tester was appointed to the bipartisan, bicameral Conference Committee tasked with striking a budget deal to fund the government and avoid another shutdown. The final funding legislation closely mirrored the initial DHS budget Tester crafted last year, providing almost $15 billion for Customs and Border Protection, over $600 million worth of investments in border technology, and more than $1.3 billion to repair and construct barriers at the border.