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Lankford, Sinema Bill Cracking Down on Cartel Recruitment & Smuggling on Social Media Passed by Homeland Security Committee

WASHINGTON, DCThe Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee today approved bipartisan legislation offered by the Border Management Subcommittee Ranking Member Senator James Lankford (R-OK) and Chair Senator Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ). The Combating Cartels on Social Media Act keeps families safe by cracking down on cartels that recruit teenagers through social media to conduct smuggling and trafficking.

Lankford and Sinema were joined in introducing the bill by Senators Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), John Tester (D-MT), and Thom Tillis (R-NC).

“Social media companies list in their ‘terms of service’ that the platform cannot be used for illegal activities, but at the same time they allow human smugglers to advertise, promote how to illegally enter the US, and demonstrate how to avoid the US Border Patrol when crossing the border,” said Lankford. “The largest social media companies pick and choose which illegal activities they like and which they do not like, and clearly, they like people illegally crossing the US border. Social media companies need to be held accountable for turning their heads to human trafficking at the cost of human lives. Today, the Senate Homeland Security Committee took the first steps to make sure this stops.”

“Cartels lure Arizona teenagers through social media into dangerous and illegal activities with the promise of easy cash, putting Arizonans’ lives at serious risk. I’m proud our legislation cracking down on this criminal activity to keep families safe, hold social media platforms accountable, and secure our border moves one step closer to becoming law,”said Sinema.

“I want to thank Senators Sinema and Lankford for introducing and advocating for this important piece of legislation. Many Americans are not aware of the fact that the drug cartels in Mexico, who have no regard for human life, are routinely using social media platforms to recruit Americans to assist them with their smuggling operations. We see teenagers, some of whom are not even old enough to have a driver’s license lured into transporting illegal narcotics and aliens. The cartels promise easy money and thrill. What these young people often get is a dangerous high-speed chase and a felony conviction. These young people literally ruin their lives before they have even reached adulthood. I am so pleased to see this legislation clear the Senate Homeland Security Committee and I hope that Congress can quickly pass this legislation,” said Brandon Judd, President of the National Border Patrol Council.

Sinemaand Lankford’s Combating Cartels on Social Media Actestablishes and implements a national strategy to combat illicit recruitment activity by transnational criminal organizations on social media and other online platforms to fight back against cartels using online platforms to recruit Americansfor smuggling operations along the southwest border.The strategy will help law enforcement hold cartels accountable.

The Senators’legislationalso requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to analyze cartels’ illicit usage of social media and establishes a process for technology companies to voluntarily report cartel recruitment efforts in the US to DHS and state and local partners.

Lankford remains the leading voice in the Senate to secure our southern border, end catch-and-release, and fix the broken asylum process. Lankford got Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to admit that our asylum process is broken and being abused and that our entire immigration process is broken.

Lankford and Sinema recently visited the US-Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona, after Title 42 authority was lifted, and he saw first-hand the national security risk the wide-open border has presented because CBP has been forced to process illegal migrants into the US instead of protecting the border. Lankford also called out the Biden Administration for fudging the illegal border crossing numbers to fake success of their Title 42 plan.