February 21, 2024


The Subterranean Border Defense Act Would Help Congress Address Growing Threat of Cross-Border Tunneling

WASHINGTON — Today, Representatives Lou Correa (D-CA), the top Democrat on the House Border Security and Enforcement Subcommittee, and Eli Crane (R-AZ) introduced the Subterranean Border Defense Act, a bipartisan piece of legislation that would require annual reports to Congress on efforts taking place to counter illicit cross-border tunnel operations.

“It’s clear that human traffickers and illegal drug smugglers have developed dynamic ways to evade capture—making it urgent and necessary that we adapt to defend against their attempts to breach our border,” said Rep. Correa. “I’m honored to be leading this bipartisan effort, alongside Rep. Crane, to help improve our efforts to counter these tunnels and those who rely on them, and protect the lives of those on both sides of our border.”

As Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) continue to expand in both size and sophistication, illicit cross-border tunnels along the southwest border of the United States represent a significant and growing threat to national security. Since 1990, law enforcement officials have discovered more than 140 tunnels that have breached the U.S. border, with an 80% increase in tunnel activity occurring since 2008. CBP dismantles cross-border tunnels as part of its overall border security and law enforcement missions.

“As terrorists, cartels, and smugglers develop new ways to infiltrate our country, the U.S. must stay on the cutting edge of security technology to protect our citizens and our infrastructure,” said Rep. Crane. “I’m proud to be able to champion one more deterrent on our southern border that will play a crucial role in keeping Arizonans safe.”

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 mandated that CBP submit a one-time report to Congress on a strategic plan for counter illicit cross-border tunnel operations. This report has since led Congress to conduct critical oversight and has enabled CBP to formalize many of the authorities, processes, technologies, and resources needed to counteract illegal underground tunnels under the U.S.-Mexico border. The Subterranean Border Defense Act would mandate a report every year going forward to ensure Congress has sufficient knowledge and oversight in regard to this dynamic threat.

Led by Correa and Crane, co-sponsors of this legislation include Representatives Biggs (R-AZ), Duncan (R-SC), Gosar (R-AZ), Guest (R-TX), Higgins (R-LA), Luttrell (R-TX), McCaul (R-TX), and Ogles (R-TN).

You can find the full text of the legislation HERE