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Border & Homeland Security
Leadership in Congress
As past Ranking Member of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, I am engaged and actively pursuing those security measures which better protect the American people from the spectrum of 21st Century threats we face today.
Now more than ever, we have to shore up our Homeland Security efforts in all aspects of American travel, commerce and living. As a native to the nation's southern international border, I understand how vital it is to secure our nation's Land Ports of Entry from the security challenges of today.
This is why I believe in coordinating the collaborative efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to better protect our border and to respond to the evolving threats and violence associated with drug trafficking, human trafficking, weapons smuggling, arms trades and cash and contraband movement across our nation's borders.
As the former Chairman to the Subcommittee on Emergency Communications, Preparedness and Response, I've been an active partner in preparing our nation's first responders, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency as we work together to prevent and respond to acts of terrorism, natural disasters and other national emergencies.
Leadership at Home
Born and raised in Laredo, Texas, I understand how important it is to secure our nation's borders and balance our nation's trade. Since coming to Congress in 2005, I've fought hard for additional federal funding for our nation's Land Ports of Entry (LOE).
By bolstering our on the ground customs and passenger security and screening measures, we ensure what comes in and out of our country is safe for the American people.
It takes good coordination to collaborate our efforts between the United States and Mexico. This is why in 2009, the House, the Senate and the President signed into law legislation I authored calling for a high-level commission between the United States and Mexico. This partnership will create a bilateral information alliance to streamline law enforcement initiatives between our two nations as we collectively protect our shared border.
Since coming to Congress, I've authored dozens of border security-related bills, including H.R. 1437 the Southern Border Security Taskforce Act of 2009 which directs DHS to create a security task force to coordinate the efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement officials to protect U.S. Border Cities from the violence associated with drug trafficking.
In December 2009, this legislation was included in the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 (CIR ASAP), a bill that also falls into the jurisdiction fo the Subcommittee on Border, Maritime and Global Counterterrorism.
Also in 2009, the House passed legislation I authored calling for a U.S. Coast Guard mission analysis to determine the Coast Guard's presence along the Rio Grande. The 1,800 mile river and international waterway separates the U.S. and Mexico and is vitally important to the interdiction of drugs, weapons and contraband.
Securing Our Communities
As former Ranking Member of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, I called on Customs and Border Protection to move swiftly in February 2010 towards deploying an unmanned aerial surveillance vehicle along the Texas-Mexico Border to gather critical intelligence information to help secure Texas against drug trafficking, weapons smuggling and potential threats of terrorism.
After working with bipartisan lawmakers from across the state, in addition to meetings with the head of the Federal Aviation Administration, CBP Commissioner Alan Bersin and Secretary Janet Napolitano, on June 23, 2010, FAA approved the use of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over the Texas-Mexico border between El Paso and Brownsville, in addition to the Texas Gulf Coast.
This UAV will be the first of its kind in Texas and will monitor the southern Texas Border along the Rio Grande, in addition to the coastal waters of Texas on the Gulf of Mexico. Based in Corpus Christi, Texas, this aircraft will be a force multiplier for our federal, state and local law enforcement on the ground. It is expected that by this fall, the UAV will permanently operate from and above Texas to help combat illegal activity along our border with Mexico.
Since 2005, UAVs have patrolled the Southern Border outside of Texas and I believe that having eyes in the skies along remote sections of our borders will help us further augment the good work of CBP and help protect our nation's CBP officers on the ground.
To read more about why I'm working with CBP to bring a border UAV to Texas, please click here.