Bipartisan Bill Introduced to Detect and Deter Illicit Entry to the United States by Improving Information Sharing
by Michael McCaul on June 21, 2019 at 12:17 PM
Yesterday, the Chairman Emeritus on the House Homeland Security Committee, Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Mike Rogers (R-AL-3), Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28), Congressman Bill Keating (D-MA-9), and I, the Lead Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced H.R. 3377, the Biometric Identification Transnational Migration Alert Program (BITMAP) Authorization Act of 2019. Senator McSally introduced the companion bill in the Senate.
BITMAP is a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Homeland Security Investigations (ICE/HSI)-led program established in 2011 under then-President Obama, in which partner-country law enforcement officers collect and share biometric and biographic data on special interest individuals to identify potential threat actors who utilize illicit pathways to enter the United States.
Terror threats are constantly evolving, and our adversaries are becoming more agile and illusive. Specifically, they are exploiting the illicit pathways in South and Central America to gain access to our nation. To combat this threat, we must leverage our international partnerships and use the most advanced technology to our advantage.
ICE’s BITMAP program shares valuable data from law enforcement officers in participating countries with our own law enforcement and intelligence agencies. In the last few years alone, BITMAP has identified several hundred known or suspected terrorists in addition to criminals, drug smugglers, human traffickers, murderers, child predators, and dangerous gangs like MS-13.
It is critical that DHS and its partners have every tool necessary to protect American citizens and I am glad to introduce this legislation with Senator McSally, a former colleague of mine on the House Homeland Security Committee. I look forward to reviewing this bipartisan legislation in committee and getting it to the floor, so we can improve our intelligence sharing capabilities and better protect our homeland.
Senator McSally: “Criminals attempt to violate our nation’s borders every day and enter our country undetected. We must provide every tool necessary to detect bad actors before they reach out borders to protect our communities. The ICE BITMAP program is a proven data sharing mechanism to provide intelligence across our borders and is an example of true bilateral cooperation to identify known or suspected terrorists and criminals on their journey to the U.S.”
Congressman Rogers: “BITMAP plays a critical role in stopping terrorists, gangs, and human traffickers from entering the United States. I am pleased to join my colleague Rep. McCaul in working to ensure the future of this program, which will allow law enforcement to continue to identify incoming national security threats and identify trends among criminal organizations.”
Congressman Cuellar: “It is important that we ensure our defense and military system is prepared for ever-evolving threats. ICE’s BITMAP program has been extremely useful for increasing our capabilities for sharing information with local law enforcement and creating strategies with our international allies to identify, break up, and destroy transnational criminal organizations, including transnational gangs, drug cartels, and smugglers, before they enter our country. I would like to thank Congressman McCaul for introducing this bipartisan piece of legislation that will protect our nation from modern day threats.”
Congressman Keating: "I am proud to once again be partnering with my friend, Congressman Michael McCaul, on BITMAP. The BITMAP program increases our capacity for information sharing and critically develops comprehensive strategies with our international partners to intercept known or suspected terrorists and criminals before they reach our borders. Without question, it is keeping Americans safer. This is common-sense legislation to protect our country from those who want to do us harm and I encourage all of my colleagues to support it.”
You can view the bill text here.