WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced a bipartisan bill to improve screening of vehicles and cargo entering the United States by increasing the use of non-intrusive inspection systems, which have enabled frontline U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers to more quickly and effectively screen vehicles and large amounts of cargo to ensure secure travel and trade at ports of entry. The legislation would set an achievable benchmark, requiring CBP 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 2024.
“Dedicated CBP officers who work tirelessly to ensure secure and efficient trade and travel across our borders need the right tools to do their jobs safely and effectively. That is why I have worked to secure investments in screening technologies that can help these frontline officers deter criminal activities like drug trafficking,” said Senator Peters. “This commonsense, bipartisan bill will make sure that CBP is using this equipment to the fullest extent possible to detect illegal activity at our borders and to prevent illicit substances like fentanyl from reaching our communities.”
“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 Sen. 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 2021, CBP interdicted more than 189,000 pounds of illicit drugs using these technologies at ports of entry. Congress provided CBP with $520 million for these 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 earlier this year. 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 in fiscal year 2024. The legislation directs CBP to brief Congressional committees on its fiscal year 2024 non-intrusive inspection scanning progress. In the event that CBP does not meet these scanning requirements in fiscal year 2024, 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 also emphasizes the need for CBP to work toward a 100 percent scanning rate at all land ports of entry.
This Congress, Peters and Cornyn have also reintroduced bipartisan legislation to strengthen border security and address personnel shortages at ports of entry.