Congressman Poe Introduces the SMART Border Act

Tuesday, I introduced H.R. 22 the Support More Assets, Resources and Technology on the Border Act, also known as the SMART Border Act. This legislation which was previously introduced 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.

For years, Washington bureaucrats have repeatedly preached that the border is secure. The reality is that the 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 currently have, but they need more help from the federal government. The federal government must finally act to secure our border. The continued failure to protect the border threatens both the security of our people and the sovereignty of our nation. 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.

In short, the SMART Border Act:

  • The bill 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.

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