Tester Presses President Biden to Strengthen Border Security, Combat Flow of Fentanyl in Bipartisan Letter

Senator calls for increased investment in technology to secure our borders and stop illicit drug trafficking

As part of his continued effort to secure America’s borders and combat the flow of fentanyl to Montana, U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) sent a bipartisan letter to President Biden calling for additional investments in technology to assist law enforcement in stopping illicit drug trafficking.

“Montana families are facing the disastrous consequences of the flow of fentanyl into our state because politicians in D.C. haven’t done their job to secure our borders,” said Tester. “I’m sick and tired of Washington’s lip service when it comes to keeping our communities safe, which is why I’m calling on President Biden to invest in technology that will help our men and women in law enforcement crack down on illicit drug trafficking. Montanans shouldn’t have to wait another minute to feel safe from the scourge of fentanyl, and I’ll hold the Administration’s feet to the fire until this gets done.”

Tester’s bipartisan letter urges the President to support a common integration platform and data aggregation of nonintrusive inspection (NII) technology for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to secure the southern border and help agents seize contraband. NII is the screening technology that allows CBP to scan vehicles and ships entering points of entry. Investments in a common integration platform will support the NII technology and ensure the data is sharable so that all operating systems can provide actionable information to law enforcement to secure our nation’s land and seaports of entry.

Tester was joined on the letter by Senators John Cornyn (R-Tex.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Angus King (I-Maine), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). In the letter, the Senators sounded the alarm over the sharp spike in overdose deaths across the country stemming from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.

“Overdose deaths in the United States, particularly due to fentanyl poisoning, continue to pose a grave threat to our communities,” the Senators wrote. “Approximately three quarters of overdose deaths last year involved synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, a figure that has been dramatically rising. Overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids have nearly doubled over the past two years, accounting for over 75,000 deaths in the 12-month period ending in September 2022.”

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

Last month, Tester co-signed a letter to President Biden urging him to restore the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to a Cabinet-level position. The ONDCP oversees the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas programs that fund drug tasks forces and the Drug Free Communities program to prevent youth substance abuse. These programs play a critical role in combatting drug trafficking and use in Montana. Elevating this position would allow the Administration to better combat drug trafficking by allowing ONDCP to coordinate efforts across agencies.

In December of 2022, Tester fought to ensure that his Protecting America’s Borders Against Fentanyl Act and his PREVENT Act were included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). These bills require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to work with other agencies to research additional technologies to target and detect illicit fentanyl, and to provide drug containment devices to all frontline border patrol agents to ensure that agents have the tools and training they need to safely handle and store illicit fentanyl and other dangerous drugs seized at the border.

Additionally, Tester fought to secure $3.85 billion for Land Ports of Entry to modernize and secure the northern and southern border in his bipartisan infrastructure legislation. He was the only member of Montana’s Congressional delegation to vote for the 2023 government funding bill, which provided over $80 billion for border security efforts.

You can read the full letter HERE.