Tester Confronts Biden Administration on Failure to Secure the Border: “This Administration needs to do more”

Senator: “My top priority is defending Montana and keeping our nation safe. It’s just that plain and simple. That means getting the situation at the southern border under control”

As part of his relentless efforts to secure America’s borders and stop the deadly flow of fentanyl into the United States, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today confronted Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over the Biden Administration’s failure to secure the southern border.

Speaking at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, Tester made clear that his top priority is defending Montana: “Look, my top priority is defending Montana and keeping our nation safe. It’s just that plain and simple. That means getting the situation at the southern border under control.” Tester continued: “I have said this directly to you many times before Secretary Mayorkas, and I reiterated to President Biden last week: this Administration needs to do more to secure our border. You guys have to do a better job prioritizing additional funding and the resources that Congress gives you to stop the deadly flow of fentanyl… that is taking the lives of Montanans and folks all across this country.”

The Senator then emphasized that in his conversations with Border Patrol agents they have told him they need more manpower and technology: When I talk to Border Patrol agents, our men and women in law enforcement, they tell me the same thing: they need more manpower, they need more technology. We have to know who’s coming into our country and what they’re bringing. And that starts with the folks on the ground and giving them the tools they need to get the job done.”

Tester noted that beyond additional funding, Congress must work in a bipartisan way to enact policy reforms to secure the border: “I do agree with some of my Republican colleagues here today that in addition to additional border secure funding, Congress must also step up and pass bipartisan policy reforms to fix this broken immigration system. Congress needs to stop playing politics with the border. Congress needs to roll up their sleeves and we need to do our part to implement meaningful solutions to address the chaos at our border, address workforce issues, and keep our country safe.”

He then pressed Secretary Mayorkas directly: “What in your proposal is actually going to plug the holes in our border to stop those intent on illegally entering the United States?”

Tester has consistently led the charge to secure our nation’s borders and combat fentanyl trafficking in Montana.

In October, Tester led a letter calling on President Biden to prioritize additional funding, resources, and innovative strategies to strengthen the security of our southern border. Tester also cosponsored his bipartisan Securing America’s Ports of Entry Act to require Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to hire an additional 600 officers annually until staffing needs are fully met. Tester’s legislation was successfully included in the Senate’s bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act of 2023 (NDAA), which is now awaiting passage by the House before becoming signed into law.

Additionally, Tester’s bipartisan Fentanyl Eradication and Narcotics Deterrence (FEND) Off Fentanyl Act was also successfully included as an amendment to the bipartisan NDAA. Tester’s FEND Off Fentanyl Act would impose economic sanctions on those engaged in the international trafficking of illicit fentanyl, precursor chemicals used to make fentanyl, or other related opioids, and declare international trafficking of fentanyl as a national emergency. 

In March, Tester continued his push to secure the southern border and stop fentanyl trafficking by calling on the Biden Administration to make additional investments in technology to assist law enforcement in nonintrusive inspections at points of entry. As the Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Tester passed critical provisions in the 2023 NDAA and the 2023 government funding bill to fund law enforcement and stop fentanyl trafficking along the southern border.