NOGALES, AZ – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, toured the Nogales Mariposa Commercial Land Point of Entry (POE) and joined Nogales Sector Border Patrol on a tour the border. Portman received operational briefs from Guadalupe Ramirez, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Director of Field Operations, Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) officials, and Sabri Dikman, Patrol Agent in Charge, U.S. Border Patrol Nogales Station. Director Ramirez and HSI officials highlighted the challenges they face with increased and more sophisticated efforts to smuggle illegal and deadly drugs into the United States. They talked about the need for more and better technology to adequately scan all incoming passenger and commercial vehicles for drugs and other contraband, as well as detect food-borne pests and livestock threats.
Border Patrol Agent in Charge Dikman described facing an overwhelming, record-breaking number of migrants and drugs, like deadly fentanyl, coming into the United States across the border. Dikman also discussed the urgent need for more border patrol officers and processors, better vehicles, and the completion of fencing systems including cameras and remote sensing. Portman toured areas along the border that badly need repairs to existing fencing and new fencing systems in areas where there are no barriers.
The dramatic increases in unlawful entries and illegal drugs in 2021 is clearly due to policy changes put in place during the Biden administration. Portman has continually pressed the administration to put new policies in place to curb unlawful migration and the influx of illicit narcotics. Since March, the southern border has faced the worst unlawful migration crisis in at least twenty years. The increase in illicit narcotics coming across the border comes as we face a record number of overdose deaths in Ohio and throughout the country. In fact, seizures of deadly fentanyl increased by more than 50 percent between September and November. The most recent U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) operational statistics showed a record number of border arrests in November which made it clear that the historic surge of unlawful migrants and illicit narcotics will continue until policy changes are made. Portman released the following statement:
“I appreciated the thorough brief and border tour led by Border Patrol Agent in Charge Dikman, as well as being able to tour the Nogales Mariposa Commercial Land Port of Entry and be briefed on their operations by Director Ramirez. I was impressed with the men and women of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Border Patrol I met, and thank them for their important service. They have difficult jobs right now, made more difficult by poor policies from Washington, D.C. It is clear that with record levels of unlawful migration and a massive influx of illicit narcotics, the Border Patrol and CBP need more and better technology and equipment as well as more personnel to successfully carry out their important mission.
“Considering the surge of illicit narcotics, like deadly fentanyl, coming over the border, I am concerned that CBP does not have adequate access to the latest narcotics detecting technology. With regard to the Border Patrol, I am working on bipartisan legislation to address recruitment and retention challenges, the ability to respond to specific crises without losing coverage on the border, additional funding for equipment repair and replacement, and closing the gaps I saw in the existing fencing systems, as well as new and better technology for lights, cameras, and remote sensing. The immediate crisis at our southern border is clear, and I urge the Biden administration to provide Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection with the tools and resources they need to do their jobs.”
Photos from the event are below: