May 15, 2018

Senator Hassan Gets Commitment from DHS Secretary to Boost Support for Drug Interdiction Efforts at U.S.-Mexico Border

Senator Hassan Highlights Importance of Getting More Devices to CBP Officers to Better Detect Fentanyl, Strengthening Southbound Traffic Inspections to Disrupt Business Model of Drug Cartels

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Click here for video of the Senator’s questions. 

WASHINGTON – As member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Senator Maggie Hassan today questioned Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen at a hearing on the “authorities and resources needed to protect and secure the United States.”

Senator Hassan highlighted her recent visit to the U.S.-Mexico border, where she evaluated firsthand the efforts underway to combat the trafficking of illicit drugs, such as fentanyl, that make their way to New Hampshire and communities across the country.

Senator Hassan questioned Secretary Nielsen on the short supply of fentanyl screening devices that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for making available to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers as directed by law under the INTERDICT Act – a bipartisan bill that Senator Hassan cosponsored.

“The officers have faced a shortage of these devices, which are essential to identifying correctly fentanyl and other drugs, as well as keeping CBP officers safe from these toxic chemicals,” Senator Hassan said. “Despite the passage of the INTERDICT Act, the port personnel I spoke with made clear that these devices were still in short supply...Why aren’t the devices getting into the hands of these port officers…what accounts for the delay and what are our plans to get more devices there,” Senator Hassan asked.

To which Secretary Nielsen responded, “That’s unacceptable. So you have my commitment to look into it and get back to you this week. They [CBP agents] need to be trained, need the protective gear to, as you know, touch packages and they also need the devices.”

The Senator also discussed what she heard on the ground in El Paso and McAllen, Texas, about the need for stronger screening of traffic leaving the U.S. for Mexico so that Border Patrol can better disrupt the business model of drug cartels and stop the flow of guns and money back into the hands of cartels responsible for fueling the deadly opioid epidemic plaguing New Hampshire and the United States.

“[Secretary Nielsen] are you satisfied with the current state of southbound inspections along the southern border?” Senator Hassan asked.

“No,” Secretary Nielsen responded and highlighted the importance of working with Mexico to “decrease the flow of guns and money headed their direction,” and to strengthen infrastructure at the ports so that agents on the ground can better inspect traffic.

In response, Senator Hassan noted that while stronger infrastructure is important, she consistently heard from agents on the ground that more personnel is needed at ports of entry to better disrupt the flow of drugs going into the U.S.

 

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