H. R. 2264
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
June 21, 2011
Mr. Reyes introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committees on Homeland Security and Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned
To reduce the trafficking of drugs and to prevent human smuggling across the Southwest Border by deterring the construction and use of border tunnels.
This Act may be cited as the
Border Tunnel Prevention Act of
Congress finds the following:
As the international border between the United States and Mexico becomes more secure, trafficking and smuggling organizations intensify their efforts to enter the United States by increasing the number of tunnels and other subterranean passages between Mexico and the United States.
Border tunnels are most often used to transport narcotics from Mexico to the United States, but can also be used to transport people and other contraband.
Between May 1990 and May 2011, law enforcement authorities discovered 137 tunnels, 125 of which have been discovered since September 2001. While law enforcement authorities discovered only 2 tunnels in California between 1990 and 2001, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of border tunnels discovered in California since 2001.
Section 551 of the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2007 (Public Law 109–295) added a new section to title 18, United States Code (18 U.S.C. 555), which—
criminalizes the construction or financing of an unauthorized tunnel or subterranean passage across an international border into the United States; and
prohibits any person from recklessly permitting others to construct or use an unauthorized tunnel or subterranean passage on the person's land.
Any person convicted of using a tunnel or subterranean passage to smuggle aliens, weapons, drugs, terrorists, or illegal goods is subject to an enhanced sentence for the underlying offense. Additional sentence enhancements would further deter tunnel activities and increase prosecutorial options.
In this Act:
National security zone
The term national security zone means any Southwest Border land designated by the Secretary as being at a high risk for border tunnel activity, as authorized under section 8(b).
The term Secretary means the Secretary of Homeland Security.
Southwest border land
The term Southwest Border land means all parcels of real property in the United States that—
are located within 1 mile of the international border between the United States and Mexico; and
are not owned by a Federal, State, tribal, or local government entity.
Attempt or conspiracy to use, construct, or finance a border tunnel
Section 555 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
Any person who attempts or conspires to commit any offense under this section shall be subject to the same penalties as those prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the attempt or conspiracy.
Authorization for interception of wire, oral, or electronic communications
Section 2516(1)(c) of title 18, United
States Code, is amended by inserting
, section 555 (relating to
construction or use of international border tunnels) before the
semicolon at the end.
982(a)(2)(B) of title 18, United States Code, is amended by inserting
Civil asset forfeiture
Any merchandise introduced into the United States through a tunnel or passage described in section 555(a) of title 18, United States Code, shall be subject to seizure and forfeiture in accordance with section 596(c) of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1595a(c)).
Money laundering designation
1956(c)(7)(D) of title 18, United States Code, is amended by inserting
section 555 (relating to border tunnels), after
554 (relating to smuggling goods from the United States),.
Notification to land owners
The Secretary is encouraged to annually provide each known nongovernmental owner and tenant of land located in a national security zone with a written notification that describes—
Federal laws related to the construction of illegal border tunnels; and
the procedures for reporting violations of such laws to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Designation of border tunnel high risk areas
The Secretary may designate any Southwest Border land that the Secretary has a substantial reason to believe is at a high risk for border tunnel activity as a national security zone.
The Secretary shall—
publish any designations made under paragraph (1) in the Federal Register; and
notice and comment in accordance with the chapter 5 of title 5, United States
Code (commonly referred to as the
Not later than 18 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall promulgate regulations to carry out this section.
The Secretary shall submit an annual report to the congressional committees set forth in subsection (b) that includes a description of—
the cross border tunnels in Southwest Border land discovered during the reporting period; and
the needs of the Department of Homeland Security to effectively prevent, investigate and prosecute border tunnel construction on Southwest Border land.
The congressional committees set forth in this subsection are—
the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Senate;
the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate;
the Committee on Homeland Security of the House of Representatives; and
the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives.