Tester Urges President Biden: Prioritize Funding to Secure the Southern Border & Stop the Flow of Fentanyl

Senators to Biden: “We urge you to prioritize additional funding, resources, and innovative strategies to strengthen the security of our southwest border”

As part of his relentless efforts to secure America’s borders and stop the flow of dangerous drugs like fentanyl into the United States, U.S. Senator Jon Tester led a letter alongside seven of his Senate colleagues calling on President Biden to prioritize additional funding, resources, and innovative strategies to strengthen the security of our southern border.

In their letter, Tester and his colleagues reiterated their longstanding support for comprehensive border security measures and urged the President to direct additional funds to secure the southern border: “As you consider the critical funding needs of our Nation, we urge you to prioritize additional funding, resources, and innovative strategies to strengthen the security of our southwest border and address the multiple, overlapping challenges there. We have long supported increasing funding for comprehensive measures to enhance border enforcement, management, and security. The situation at our border is complex, and it will take continued leadership and funding to stem the flow of illicit drugs like fentanyl, smuggling, and transnational criminal organizations that operate along our border.

Tester’s letter specifically called attention to the dangerous flow of fentanyl that is wreaking havoc on Montana and communities across the country: “Overdose deaths, particularly among young people, are increasing across our Nation. In total, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that more than 112,000 people died from a drug overdose between May 2022 and May 2023, with fentanyl and other synthetic opioids causing the vast majority of overdoses… In Montana, accidental overdoses of young people under 40 increased by 121% from 2018 to 2022. The increasing rates of overdose deaths are clearly being driven, in part, by fentanyl trafficking across our border.”

To address issues at the border, Tester and his colleagues requested funding for improved security measures at American ports of entry, additional manpower, and enhanced inspection technology: “Strengthening our southwest border is not only vital to our national security, but also our public health. To achieve this, we must prioritize additional funding for the Department of Homeland Security for its critical border security operations, including funding construction and infrastructure improvements at our ports of entry. We also urge you to invest funding to hire additional CBP Officers, increase processing and screening capacity at ports of entry along the border, engage in a wide range of counter-drug activities, and acquire additional non-intrusive inspection technology to increase the number of passenger cars and cargo that are scanned at the border.”

Tester and his colleagues concluded their letter by emphasizing that they have long supported additional funding to secure our southern border and will continue to make it a top priority: “For years, we have voted to enact additional funding to address the complex challenges at our southwest border by focusing on smart security measures and enhanced technology. We continue to support strong investments in border security measures that will keep our Nation safer and increase the capacity, personnel, and technology that available to enhance the security of our border.”

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

In October, Tester 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.

You can read Tester’s letter to President Biden HERE.