Tester Backs Laken Riley Act to Hold Criminals Accountable and Keep Montana Safe

Senator breaks from his party, supports legislation that will require ICE apprehend illegal immigrants who commit a crime

As part of his continued efforts to secure the southern border and keep Montana communities safe, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today officially co-sponsored the Laken Riley Act – legislation that would require federal officials to apprehend and detain illegal immigrants who commit certain crimes until they can be removed from the U.S.

“Keeping Montana safe is my top priority, which is why I’ve repeatedly called on the Biden Administration and Congress to do more to secure the southern border and have worked to get the brave men and women in law enforcement what they need to keep criminals off our streets,” said Tester. “After hearing from law enforcement officers across Montana, I’m backing the Laken Riley Act to make sure that individuals who enter our country and commit a crime are held accountable so that no Montana family has to worry about the safety of their loved ones.”

The Laken Riley Act would require U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to apprehend illegal immigrants who commit theft, burglary, larceny, or shoplifting offenses and would mandate that these individuals are detained until they are removed from the U.S. so they cannot reoffend and commit further crimes. In April, Tester publicly expressed support for the Laken Riley Act and said that he would vote for the legislation as a standalone bill. Tester is the first Democratic U.S. Senator to formally co-sponsor the legislation.

Tester has led the charge to secure the southern border and stop the deadly flow of fentanyl that is wreaking havoc on Montana. He has repeatedly expressed to Secretary Mayorkas and President Biden that the Administration must do more and “use all of the remaining tools at your disposal” to secure our borders. Tester voted to secure the southern border in February – but politicians in Congress blocked the bipartisan border security legislation. In addition to creating a new authority to close the southern border when encounters increased, the bipartisan border security proposal would have increased the initial screening standards for asylum claims, ensured that all migrants allowed into the U.S. were either detained or supervised while their asylum cases are pending, and prevented migrants who arrived unlawfully at the southern order from being paroled into the U.S. Read a memo outlining the facts about the bipartisan border security proposal HEREwhich received the endorsement of the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) and the Director of Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

Through his role as a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Tester secured significant wins for border security and law enforcement in the FY2024 government funding appropriations package. Border security wins backed by Tester in the package include:

  • Funding for up to 22,000 U.S. Border Patrol Agents to secure areas between ports of entry;
  • 150 new Customs and Border Protection officers at ports of entry to help secure our southern border;
  • 41,500 new detention beds for an increase of 7,500 or 24% over FY23, following Tester’s efforts to prevent mass releases due to the failure of the bipartisan border security bill;
  • Increased funding for border technology, including funding to purchase new NII border scanners and install existing technology, following Tester’s efforts to ensure Congress fully funded fentanyl scanning technology at our borders.