WASHINGTON, D.C.--Today Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02) along with Congressman Diane Black (TN- 6) and Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21) introduced H.R. 300 the Support More Assets, Resources and Technology on the Border Act of 2015, also known as the SMART Border Act of 2015. This legislation which was previously introduced last Congress outlines a robust border protection strategy and includes several measures to bolster the Federal Government’s assistance in achieving operational control of the U.S. southern border. H.R 300 sets up a process for a Congressional vote to certify whether or not operational control of the border has been achieved 90 days after DHS reports to Congress on this goal. If Congress does not certify that operational control has been achieved, the bill sets up a process for hiring an additional 1,500 CBP officers and a short term deployment of the National Guard until operational control is achieved.
“Washington bureaucrats have falsely preached that the border is secure for years,” said Congressman Poe. “In reality, a majority of the southern border territory is controlled by someone other than the United States. Border patrol and local law enforcement do the best they can with the resources they’ve got, but they need more help from the federal government. Washington’s continued failure protect the border threatens both the security of our people and the sovereignty of our nation. Any immigration reform efforts will be moot without making border security a reality. The SMART Border Act incorporates several common sense reforms that will ramp up support from the federal government and charge Congress, not unelected bureaucrats, with determining if and when operational control is achieved.”
“President Obama has talked at length about the need to ‘reform’ our immigration laws – but real reform starts with securing our border,” said Congressman Black. “Today’s broken border system puts our national security at risk and does nothing to stem the tide of illegal immigration. I am proud to join Reps. Poe and Smith in introducing the SMART Border Act which will hold the Obama Administration accountable for doing its jobs and protecting our homeland. In the absence of leadership from the White House, Congress must act to address our border crisis. This measure will do just that.”
“Americans, especially in Texas, continue to call on Congress to secure the border,” said Rep. Smith. “The SMART Act responds to this call by securing the border and enforcing our interior immigration laws. It sets a deadline for securing the border. And it requires the Department of Homeland Security to implement the biometric entry-exit tracking system to combat those who stay in the country after their visas expire. The SMART Act restores accountability and helps border states better protect themselves from the scourge of illegal border crossings.
“The solution to our nation’s border problems is neither complex nor complicated – it’s common sense. We need to enforce the laws currently on the books and secure the border before any other immigration changes are considered.”
Major Provisions of The SMART Border Act:
- Requires the Secretary of DHS to achieve operational control of the border within one year of enactment and submit a report on this achievement to the Comptroller General of the United States.
- Requires the GAO to submit a report to Congress three months after DHS attests to full border security in consultation with state and local officials along the international border between the US and Mexico including border sheriffs, mayors of border towns and cities, chambers of commerce in border areas, farmers and ranchers and associated farming and ranching organizations in border areas, community organizations in border areas, state law enforcement agencies and border state governors.
- Within 90 days of the receipt of these reports, Congress has the option to vote on a joint resolution of disapproval of the report if they believe the border is not under full operational control. Should the vote not occur, the report and certification will be deemed passed for purposes of the act.
- Requires GAO to submit annual reports on the status of operational control of the US border.
- Mandates that DOD make 10,000 National Guard troops available for deployment upon request from border state governors until operational control is achieved.
- Authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to deploy “smart border technology” (such as seismic detectors and UAV’s) to areas of the border in which operational control has not been achieved.
- Directs DOD to use its current 257a authority to transfer used military equipment to eligible Federal, State, and local agencies with a preference toward border security applications. Eligible equipment will include surveillance drones, night vision equipment, Humvees and other applicable equipment that can be used for border security purposes.
- Mandates that DHS hire 1500 new CBP agents if it is determined that operational control of the border has not been achieved.
- Creates a $10 million grant program (offset) through DHS to pay for border security infrastructure. (cell phone towers, signal boosters etc.)
- Creates a grant program (offset) through DHS to local sheriffs’ offices along the international border for the purpose of hiring additional deputies, training, patrol vehicles and weapons.
- Mandates that CBP only count an individual who has been apprehended on the border once in terms of their reporting requirements for counting apprehensions.
- Mandates that the Secretary of DHS fully implement US VISIT (entry-exit) system within two years of enactment.
- Mandates that the system be used at all entry/exit points in the US and that the program be biometric.
- Defines the term ‘operational control' as a condition in which all illegal border crossers are apprehended and narcotics and other contraband are seized.