Vote Explanation for H.R. 2213 — Anti-Border Corruption Reauthorization Act of 2017

I voted against H.R. 2213, the Anti-Border Corruption Reauthorization Act of 2017, which would weaken critical polygraph requirements for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers by exempting former state and local law enforcement officials, veterans, and members of the military from this test.

Given how much attention the Trump Administration and congressional Republicans give to the importance of strengthening the Mexico-United States border, it is ironic that they put forward legislation that would undermine the vetting tools used to ensure that the men and women securing our southern border are held to the highest standards.

The majority of CBP agents and officers are law-abiding individuals. However, the agency has a historic connection to organized crime, drug cartels, and corruption. The former head of Internal Affairs at CBP from 2006 to 2014, James Tomcheck, stated that cartels send applicants to infiltrate CBP and “it’s ‘conservative to estimate that 5 percent of the [Border Patrol] force’ — or ‘about 1,000 agents’ — could be corrupt.” In fact, many of these agents have been veterans and former law enforcement officers. The Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security, John Roth, has explained: “[Polygraph changes including the proposed legislation] could put CBP at significant risk.”

I agree with my Republican colleagues that we need to secure our southern border. Weakening CBP hiring standards is a step in the wrong direction.