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April 10, 2024

Bipartisan Border Security Bill Introduced by Rep. Crane Passes Out of Committee

The Subterranean Border Defense Act would help Congress address the growing threat of cross-border tunneling

Today, the House Committee on Homeland Security passed the Subterranean Border Defense Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by Rep. Eli Crane (R-AZ) and Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA). The bill now awaits further action on the House Floor. 

The legislation would strengthen our layered defense system at the border by requiring annual reports to Congress on counter illicit cross-border tunnel operations.

“Effective border security is created by overlapping deterrents. My legislation would help ensure that Congress has the necessary data to forge another much-needed layer of defense—especially when the Biden Administration’s policies have left our country inexcusably vulnerable,” said Rep. Crane. “I’m grateful to Chairman Green for his support of this bill and for his distinguished leadership on the Committee.”

House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Mark Green said, “Illicit cross-border tunnel operations are more evidence that vicious criminal cartels will stop at nothing to smuggle weapons, drugs, and illegal aliens into this country to our detriment, and for their profit. DHS must provide Congress with reporting on these operations annually, as well as the Border Patrol’s efforts to stop them, as these operations are a threat to all Americans. The House Committee on Homeland Security is committed to protecting Americans from the grip and influence of the cartels––and I am grateful for Rep. Crane’s work on this legislation which directs DHS to do just that.”


As Transnational Criminal Organizations 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. Congress must address this deadly threat and ensure U.S. Customs and Border Protection has the resources needed to acquire counter tunnel technology.

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. In fact, there are research, development, and test activities conducted between the United States and Israel – who must combat a vast network of Hamas tunnels under the Gaza Strip – to detect and destroy tunnels in both countries.

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.

Rep. Crane’s legislation would mandate a report every year going forward to ensure Congress has sufficient knowledge and oversight in regard to this dynamic threat.

Cosponsors of the legislation include Reps. Biggs (R-AZ), Duncan (R-SC), Gosar (R-AZ), Guest (R-TX), Higgins (R-LA), Luttrell (R-TX), McCaul (R-TX), Ogles (R-TN), D’Esposito (R-NY), Burlison (R-MO), Thanedar (D-MI), and Rosendale (R-MT).