WASHINGTON, D.C. – Bipartisan legislation authored by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and John Cornyn (R-TX) to improve screening of vehicles and cargo entering the United States by increasing the use of non-intrusive inspection systems has advanced in the Senate. The non-intrusive inspection systems have enabled frontline U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers to more effectively screen vehicles and cargo to ensure secure travel and trade at ports of entry. The legislation will help promote safe and efficient travel and trade at ports of entry, and bolster the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) efforts to prevent illegal activities like drug trafficking at our borders. The bill was approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where Peters serves as Chair. It now moves to the full Senate for consideration.
“Non-intrusive inspection systems are effective tools that enable Customs and Border Protection Officers to securely facilitate legitimate trade and travel at our ports of entry,” said Senator Peters. “Increasing the scanning rate of non-intrusive inspection systems at land ports of entry will strengthen our border security by helping these dedicated officers better identify contraband, and better protect our communities from illicit drugs like fentanyl, while also enabling CBP to efficiently process legitimate commerce that keeps our economy moving.”
“Texas is the top exporting state in America, and more than $230 billion in goods is transported between Texas and Mexico alone each year,” said Senator Cornyn. “By expanding the use of non-intrusive inspection technologies, this legislation would help CBP officers to efficiently examine cargo coming into and out of Texas while keeping our border secure.”
The death toll across the nation from synthetic opioids – such as fentanyl – continues to reach record levels. Non-intrusive inspection systems are an effective tool that helps CBP interdict these dangerous drugs before they harm our communities. In fiscal year 2022, CBP interdicted more than 100,000 pounds of illicit drugs using these technologies at ports of entry. Non-intrusive inspection systems also help CBP detect and seize other undeclared and prohibited goods, like certain pork products, that could cost American companies revenue and jobs and pose risks to American agriculture. Non-intrusive inspection systems also reduce the time it takes to conduct inspections, supporting costs savings for both CBP and industries that rely on efficient processing. Congress provided CBP with $520 million for non-intrusive inspection systems in 2019 and has provided increased resources since then – including $87 million as a part of the government funding legislation that was signed into law in 2022. The senators’ legislation would ensure CBP is utilizing the tools Congress has provided to increase scanning rates at ports of entry.
The Non-Intrusive Inspection Expansion Act will require CBP to use non-intrusive inspection systems to scan at least 40 percent of passenger vehicles and at least 90 percent of commercial vehicles entering the United States at land ports of entry by the end of fiscal year 2026, an achievable benchmark. The legislation directs CBP to brief Congressional committees on its fiscal year 2026 non-intrusive inspection scanning progress. In the event that CBP does not meet these scanning requirements in fiscal year 2026, the bill directs CBP to submit a report to Congressional committees on why it was unable to meet the requirements and its plan for ensuring compliance in the coming year. The legislation requires CBP to submit a strategy to Congressional committees on increasing outbound inspection operations at land ports of entry and requires CBP to utilize non-intrusive inspection systems for to scan 10 percent of outbound vehicles by the end of 2026. The legislation also requires the Government Accountability Office to review and report on CBP’s use of non-intrusive inspection systems for border security.