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Lankford Looks to Support CBP to Stop Drugs, Guns, Human Smuggling at Border

WASHINGTON, DC – In his ongoing work to offer practical solutions for the issues facing law enforcement at our southern border, Senator James Lankford (R-OK), lead Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Government Operations and Border Management, and Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) introduced the Border Enforcement, Security, and Trade (BEST) Facilitation Act of 2023. The bill would support border law enforcement by providing additional personnel to scan cargo for illegal drugs and guns or human smuggling. Border law enforcement told Lankford directly that addressing this issue would help them better enforce the law at our ports of entry.

“Successfully inspecting cargo at our ports of entry helps stop dangerous drugs like fentanyl from coming into the US,” said Lankford. “Border law enforcement have asked for support to analyze cargo images in real time, so they can focus on the person-to-person contact that enables them to catch criminals. Adding these positions makes sure cargo can be thoroughly inspected for illegal drugs, guns, and human smuggling at our border. This is a nonpartisan, straight-forward solution to support our hard-working border law enforcement.” 

“Customs and Border Protection need the necessary resources to do the difficult job of keeping illegal drugs, like fentanyl, and other dangerous substances from entering our country,” Kelly said. “As we continue the work to upgrade and expand our ports of entry, the BEST Facilitation Act will help CBP more quickly reach the goal of 100% scanning while increasing trade, decreasing wait times, and enhancing the ability to stop illegal drugs and cargo. As we know in Arizona, ports are a major economic benefit to our communities, and this bill provides for additional port personnel to ensure our ports are secure and efficient.

The bill creates within Customs and Border Protection (CBP) positions for what are called “image adjudicators” who will review and assess scans of cargo images and either recommend entry to the primary inspection CBP officer or refer for further inspection any cargo they suspect may have illegal or illicit items.

The bill also creates the position of “supervisory image adjudicators” to review and assess difficult-to-adjudicate images in addition to the regular duties of image adjudicators. This position will also receive, report, and disseminate intelligence to and from the National Targeting Center to image adjudicators. The bill would also mandate training and annual assessments for image adjudicators, require the development of a workforce staffing model, and institute reporting requirements.