Tester Statement on Vote to Secure the Southern Border

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today issued the following statement after the U.S. Senate failed to pass bipartisan legislation to secure the southern border. Tester voted yes on the proposal, which received the endorsement of the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) and the Director of Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

“Montanans sent me to the Senate to solve problems, which is why I voted today to secure our southern border and tackle the fentanyl crisis. This bipartisan proposal would have given our men and women in law enforcement the resources and policy changes they have told me they need to get the job done – that’s why it received the strong endorsement of the National Border Patrol Council and the head of Customs and Border Protection. It is shameful that politicians in Washington have once again chosen to play politics with our border and put our national security at risk. Montanans are fed up with these political games and want to see our southern border secured now – and so do I.”

For months, a bipartisan group of Senate negotiators led by Republican Senator James Lankford from Oklahoma, Independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona, and Democratic Senator Chris Murphy from Connecticut have worked to produce bipartisan border security legislation. Here’s what Republican leaders and law enforcement are saying about the bill:

  • The National Border Patrol Council (NBPC), which represents approximately 18,000 Border Patrol agents and personnel charged with enforcing our country’s border security policies, stated in part: “The Border Act of 2024 will codify into law authorities that U.S. Border Patrol agents never had in the past. This will allow us to remove single adults expeditiously and without a lengthy judicial review, which historically has required the release of these individuals into the interior of the U.S. This alone will drop illegal border crossings nationwide and will allow a great many of our agents to get back to detecting and apprehending those who want to cross our borders illegally and evade apprehension. While not perfect, the Border Act of 2024 is a step in the right direction and is far better than the status quo, which is why the National Border Patrol Council endorses the bill and hopes for a quick passage.”
  • The Director of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) stated in part: “This proposed legislation would provide the strongest set of tools we have had in decades to effectively manage migration and enhance our nation’s border security.”
  • Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell admittedly publicly that his own party has played politics with securing the border, stating: “I followed the instructions of my conference, who were insisting that we tackle this in October. I mean, it’s actually our side that wanted to tackle the border issue. We started it,” McConnell said, adding that“things have changed over the last four months.” 

In December, Tester pressed Senate leadership to prioritize these border security negotiations and tackle our broken immigration system. In a recent statewide and national op-ed, Tester called for the Senate to get the bill on the floor for debate.

Read a memo outlining the facts about the bipartisan border security proposal HERE.