WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, the top-ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is calling for answers on what U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is doing to make sure Border Patrol agents have functional communications devices. McCaskill joined Senators Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Jon Tester of Montana in a letter to CBP Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan that follows reports of inoperable radios and other communications devices along America’s Southern and Northern borders.
“We’ve got to make sure agents have the equipment they need to protect the safety of Missourians and all Americans,” McCaskill said. “When I went to the U.S.-Mexico border to talk with Border Patrol agents on the ground, they said over and over again that they need better technology in order to intercept drugs, drug traffickers and threats they identify along the border.”
Some radios that Border Patrol agents carry do not work in more remote areas of the border. “Th[e] lack of reliable, interoperable, and secure communication devices represents a direct threat to agent safety and border security,” write the Senators in their letter to McAleenan. “Moving forward, we want to ensure that the equipment CBP purchases meets operational needs, improves agent safety, and contributes to a more secure border.”
The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has jurisdiction over many aspects of the Department of Homeland Security, including CBP. McCaskill has served on the Committee since joining the Senate in 2007, becoming the top-ranking Democrat on the Committee at the beginning of this year. She has focused on ways to effectively secure the border and strengthen national security. Earlier this year, she introduced a bill that helps combat drug and weapons trafficking and other crimes along the border. She also pushed for answers in a recent Committee hearing on what USPS and CBP is doing to crack down on opioid shipments from foreign countries to Missouri and across the country. In February, she toured the U.S.-Mexico border to hear more about what those on the ground most need to enhance border security.
Read the Senators’ letter to McAleenan HERE.