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Heinrich, Udall Introduce Smart Measures To Enhance Safety In Remote Border Areas, Boost Trade At Ports of Entry

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 7, 2019)- Today, U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) introduced three key proposals to address the needs in remote areas of the nation's southern border region and invest in our southern ports of entry to increase international trade and bolster economic development in border communities.

As congressional negotiators continue to work on a path forward for funding border security measures and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through the end of the fiscal year, Heinrich and Udall want to make smart investments in our border region. As the February 15 deadline approaches to reach a deal to prevent another lapse in federal funding, President Trump has threatened to shut down the government again or unilaterally declare a national emergency if he is not satisfied with an agreement reached on border security.

"President Trump has never been interested in responsible border security policies that would help us build a safer and more prosperous border region. Instead of wasting billions of dollars on a border wall that New Mexicans don't want or need, we should make smart, responsible investments," said Heinrich. "I am proud to introduce pragmatic proposals that address the gaps in the border security debate and reflect the realities of our border communities."

"As New Mexicans know, fear-mongering and out-of-touch characterizations of the border do not match the reality on the ground, and the president's simplistic solution -- a massive, wasteful wall along the entire southern border -- is not a realistic or effective approach to keeping people safe or keeping our nation secure," said Udall. "We face complex challenges at our border, and those challenges demand serious and common-sense solutions like those included in these bills -- including measures to improve recruitment and retention of staff in the most remote parts of New Mexico's border region, bolster our ports of entry to support our economy, and make smart investments in technology, resources, and equipment in remote areas like the Bootheel. I hope Congress can move beyond the president's message of division and work toward these meaningful solutions."

The legislation introduced today includes:

Remote, Emergency, Medical, Online Training, Telehealth, and EMT (REMOTE) Act

This legislation would improve health and safety in all remote areas of the southern border by providing additional medical training and resources to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Specifically, the bill would provide Border Patrol agents with increased medical training and EMT certification, and deliver enhanced language interpretation services and voice access to physicians or health care providers at all remote CBP stations and southern land-based ports of entry.

In recent months, more migrants have attempted dangerous unauthorized crossings in remote areas of the United States due to the Trump administration's practice of turning away and limiting the volume of asylum seekers. In December, two migrant children in New Mexico died in Department of Homeland Security (DHS) custody, raising serious questions about DHS's ability to adequately provide for the health and safety of children and prevent future tragedies.

The text for this bill can be found here.

Trade Facilitation and Security Enhancement Act

To ensure safe and efficient trade along the border, this legislation would increase commercial hours of operation at some of our nation's busiest southern land ports of entry (POEs). The bill would also direct CBP, in consultation with the Administrator of General Services, to conduct a study of designated POEs to identify improvements to redesign, modernize, and improve efficiency.

In recent years, federal and private investments in the border industrial zone and the Santa Teresa POE in southern New Mexico have improved interstate commerce and bolstered the local economy. Improving transportation infrastructure and commercial inspection facilities at POEs would attract new businesses and new jobs to the border region while also helping customs officers ensure our border is safe and secure.

The text for this bill can be found here.

Remote Areas Border Security Enhancements Act

Instead of pursuing the construction of an unnecessary and wasteful wall, this legislation would make smart investments in technology and equipment in rural and remote border areas. This bill also includes a new pilot program to address Border Patrol's high attrition rate, which is regularly higher than the rate of most other federal law enforcement agencies.

The text for this bill can be found here.