Fitzpatrick: Border Security Must Be a Priority
Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08), a member of the Homeland Security Committee and a member of the bipartisan Task Force on Denying Terrorists Entry into the United States, addressed the House Wednesday about the importance of a bipartisan, multi-pronged approach to securing our nation’s border:
“Mr. Speaker, as an FBI Agent, my job was to keep the American people safe from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. On the national security front, those components include a sound counterterrorism strategy, a sound counterintelligence strategy, a sound cyber-security strategy, a sound foreign policy, and a sound border security strategy.
Before us today, Mr. Speaker, is the issue of border security. An issue that, quite frankly, has been largely ignored over the past several decades by both parties. And as a result, our national security remains compromised at a point in time where we live in a more dangerous world than we ever have. When you combine the fact that our enemies are now both more sophisticated and better funded, coupled with our border security apparatus which is under-funded, outdated and compromised, this is a recipe for disaster for our nation. The time is now to act on securing our border. North, south, east and west. All its components, in all our geographic regions.
As a member of the Homeland Security Committee, I’ve spent time on the border with our brave women and men on the front lines, working as CBP officers and border patrol agents. I’ve spent time both on the ocean and in the sky with the brave women and men in our Coast Guard. Mr. Speaker, they are pleading for our help. And shame on us if we do not deliver for them.
Their requests are simple: Increase their manpower, to provide them with a sufficient number of agents to interdict not just drugs and guns from cartels, but also criminals and terrorists who seek to do us harm; invest in the technology that they need to do their job, to include drones and aerial surveillance, infra-red technology, heat sensors, motion detectors both above and below the ground, and an array of 21st-century high-tech options that serve as force-multipliers along the border; they need physical barriers in various forms along various stretches of the border in order to slow down the cartels and allow sufficient response time for the agents to interdict; moreover, we must invest heavily in a robust Human Intelligence Program, giving our agents the resources they need to recruit human sources on the other side of the border to provide our agents with advance notice of both the sources and methods of criminal conspiracies forming along the border; in addition, we must bolster the Office of Inspector General to crack down on border corruption, through the use of drug testing, financial screening and polygraph examinations.
Mr. Speaker, the concept of border security is a multi-pronged challenge that requires action on all fronts, not just one or two. I urge my friends and colleagues on both sides of the aisle: Please do not politicize this issue. Securing operational control of our border is a national security emergency. My former law enforcement colleagues who are putting their life on the line every day while protecting our borders, are asking for our help. Let’s not let them down.”
As a member of the bipartisan Task Force on Denying Terrorists Entry into the United States, Fitzpatrick is working to examine pathways by which extremists might infiltrate the homeland and seek to identify gaps in government information sharing and vetting procedures. As such, he has advocated for physical security pieces in the arsenal of options for addressing border security, as well as increased technological support for Customs and Border Pratol agents, bolstered aerial surveillance, and additional manpower. To this end, the administration has prioritized the hiring of 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents and 10,000 ICE agents.