Skip to content

Heinrich Cosponsors Bipartisan Bills to Strengthen Border Security, Boost Staffing and Inspection Technology at Ports of Entry

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (N.M.) is cosponsoring two bipartisan bills, both led by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas), to strengthen border security at ports of entry:

The Securing America's Ports of Entry Act would fully staff America's airports, seaports, and land ports of entry by requiring U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to hire at least 600 additional officers a year within the Office of Field Operations (OFO) until the agency's staffing needs are met.  

The Non-Intrusive Inspection Improvement Act would improve screening of vehicles and cargo entering the United States by increasing the use of non-intrusive inspection systems, which have enabled frontline OFO officers to more quickly and effectively screen vehicles and large amounts of cargo to ensure secure travel and trade at ports of entry.

“Increasing law enforcement staffing and the use of non-intrusive detection technologies at our ports of entry are some of the surest ways to strengthen border security,” said Heinrich. “It is critical to stop the flow of illicit fentanyl and deadly drugs into our communities, boost trade, and invest in New Mexico border communities. Despite Republicans’ inaction, I remain focused on fixing our badly broken immigration systemand delivering smart investments to better secure the border.”

Securing America's Ports of Entry Act

CBP continues to face ongoing shortages of officers. In addition to hiring hundreds moreOFO officers, the Securing America's Ports of Entry Act also authorizes the annual hiring of mission support staff and technicians to perform non-law enforcement functions in support of OFO. These professionals will allow OFO officers to focus their efforts on law enforcement priorities, such as preventing drug trafficking, while supporting lawful international commerce through the nation’s ports of entry. 

Nearly 85% of fentanyl seized by CBP in 2022 was interdicted at ports of entry. That’s why the bill also requires reporting on infrastructure improvements at ports of entry that would enhance drug interdiction, information on detection equipment that would help officers better identify drugs, and safety equipment to protect officers from accidental exposure to dangerous toxins. Addressing a shortage of OFO officers would also help to reduce waiting times for merchandise, agriculture, luggage, and travelers coming through our ports of entry.

Non-Intrusive Inspection Improvement Act

Non-intrusive inspection systems help frontline OFO officers quickly and effectively screen vehicles and large amounts of cargo to ensure secure travel and trade at ports of entry. The Non-Intrusive Inspection Improvement Act would set an achievable benchmark, requiring CBP to scan at least 40 percent of passenger vehicles and at least 90 percent of commercial vehicles entering the United States at land ports of entry by the end of fiscal year 2026. The bill would also require CBP to increase its use of non-intrusive inspection systems for outbound scanning of vehicles.  

The death toll across the nation from synthetic opioids – such as fentanyl – continues to reach record levels. Non-intrusive inspection systems are an effective tool that helps CBP interdict these dangerous drugs before they harm our communities. In fiscal year 2022, CBP interdicted more than 100,000 pounds of illicit drugs using these technologies at ports of entry. 

Heinrich’s leadership on border security:

Heinrich has long been committed to ensuring New Mexico has the tools and funding to better secure the U.S.-Mexico border.  

In the most recent government funding law, Heinrich secured more than $1 million to help law enforcement agencies throughout New Mexico purchase equipment to safely identify fentanyl and other illicit substances, the creation of a first-of-its-kind fentanyl tracking system, and language that directs the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to remove barriers to access life-saving opioid use disorder medications. Heinrich also delivered more than $400 million for CBP to detect and seize fentanyl at our ports of entry.

Earlier this month, Heinrich welcomed President Biden’s executive order to strengthen border security, saying, “From our front row seat to the dysfunction at the border and in our immigration system, New Mexicans see the effects— on immigrants, border communities, and national security. We want action.”  

In May, Heinrich and U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.) led 15 of their colleagues in a letter to Senate Appropriators urging them to provide the United States with the tools to combat the fentanyl crisis by continuing robust funding for border security and drug interdiction initiatives. In their letter, the senators pushed for funding for U.S. Customs and Border Protection to hire additional agents and purchase more surveillance technology for official ports of entry along the southern border, where illicit drugs are being smuggled in and firearms and currency are being trafficked out of the U.S. to be used by Mexican cartels. The senators also requested more funding for U.S. law enforcement to investigate trafficking crimes and the transnational organizations perpetuating the fentanyl crisis in the United States.  

In April, Heinrich secured the passage of the FEND Off Fentanyl Act, which will give law enforcement the tools needed to crack down on drug traffickers and international criminal organizations. This new law will combat the flow of deadly fentanyl before it ever reaches our nation’s borders. It is one of the most significant actions Congress has taken to effectively address the fentanyl epidemic that’s killing New Mexicans and tearing families apart. 

In February, Heinrich led his Senate colleagues in a letter to President Joe Biden outlining the urgent need for robust funding for border security and drug interdiction efforts to stem the flow of fentanyl and similar illicit drugs being smuggled across the border through official ports of entry.

In February, in an op-ed published in USA TODAY, Heinrich slammed Republicans’ hypocrisy following their vote to block this same bipartisan border deal, emphasizing the need for real solutions — not political stunts — to our nation’s broken immigration system. Last month, Heinrich blasted Republicans after they once again blocked the Senate from even beginning debate on bipartisan border security legislation.  

Heinrich has also worked for more than a decade to expand and invest in the Santa Teresa Port of Entry. During his tenure in Congress, he has successfully secured millions of federal dollars to invest in the road, rail, and air cargo infrastructure in this rapidly growing center of New Mexico’s trade economy.  

Last month, in a letter to the General Services Administration (GSA) and U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Heinrich, U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), and U.S. Representative Gabe Vasquez (D-N.M.) commended the completion of a feasibility study on the modernization and expansion of the Santa Teresa Land Port of Entry (STLPOE) in southern New Mexico and urged both agencies to make this project a top priority. This letter came after a push from Heinrich in March for the agencies to promptly complete the feasibility study Heinrich and Luján funded to expand and modernize the Santa Teresa Port of Entry (STLPOE).  

You can find more detailed information about all of Heinrich’s actions to secure forward-looking investments to modernize and expand the Santa Teresa Land Port of Entry HERE.