H. R. 4119
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
March 1, 2012
Mr. Reyes (for himself, Mr. Quayle, Mr. Dreier, and Mr. Thompson of Mississippi) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committees on Ways and Means and Homeland Security, 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:
Trafficking and smuggling organizations are intensifying their efforts to enter the United States through 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.
From Fiscal Year 1990 to Fiscal Year 2011, law enforcement authorities discovered 149 cross-border tunnels along the border between Mexico and the United States, 139 of which have been discovered since Fiscal Year 2001. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of cross-border tunnels discovered in Arizona and California since Fiscal Year 2006, with 40 tunnels discovered in California and 74 tunnels discovered in Arizona.
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.
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 subsection (a) or subsection (c) of 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.
Section 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),.
Sense of Congress
It is the sense of Congress that—
success in combating the construction and use of cross-border tunnels requires cooperation between Federal, State, local, and tribal officials and assistance from private land owners and tenants across the border between Mexico and the United States;
the Department of Homeland Security is currently engaging in outreach efforts in California to certain landowners and tenants along the border to educate them about cross-border tunnels and seek their assistance in combating their construction; and
the Department should continue its outreach efforts to both private and governmental landowners and tenants in areas along the border between Mexico and the United States with a high rate of cross-border tunnels.
The Secretary of Homeland Security shall submit an annual report to the congressional committees set forth in subsection (b) that includes a description of—
the cross-border tunnels along the border between Mexico and the United States discovered during the preceding fiscal year; and
the needs of the Department of Homeland Security to effectively prevent, investigate and prosecute border tunnel construction along the border between Mexico and the United States.
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 Appropriations of the Senate;
the Committee on Homeland Security of the House of Representatives;
the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives; and
the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives.