More Surveillance, Drug Screening Tech Called for at Border

After a visit to the border between the United States and Mexico, a Montana congressman said that in order to enhance security, more technology for surveillance and vehicle drug screening is needed.

by Kianna Gardner, Daily Inter Lake / March 27, 2019

(TNS) — During a call to the press on Tuesday, Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester divulged details from a recent trip he took to the United States-Mexico border where he visited various ports of entry, local farms and an immigration detention facility in Texas.

After “witnessing firsthand” the border, he emphasized the need for the U.S. to “use every tool in our tool box” when it comes to border security, calling specifically for an increase in U.S. Customs and Border Patrol personnel and better technology for surveillance and vehicle drug screening. Tester praised X-ray technology used at one of the ports of entry, which officials told him is highly effective and can detect any drugs moving across the border by way of vehicle — a point of interest in Montana as law enforcement cites concern over a spike in methamphetamine in the state, which some speculate stems from the southern border.

Tester said a wall should be implemented only “where it makes sense,” but considers it a “poor use of taxpayer money” that can be better spent elsewhere.

“It [the wall] would not solve this complex issue on its own,” Tester said. “We need more manpower and better technology.”

He visited a detention center in McAllen where he said he saw some 800 men, women and children who had attempted to cross into the U.S. illegally.

“It was hard to see them in conditions that are cramped, specifically the kids,” Tester said.

He said Border Patrol officials showed him the Rio Grande, which most immigrants cross in order to reach the border. In addition to calling for more manpower and technology, Tester said removing thick brush that has overrun the river would help agents to “better do their jobs.”

Tester’s stance on the wall differs slightly from Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines, who also recently took a trip the southern border wall, but in Arizona. While Daines also said better technology is a must, he elaborated on the need to secure funding for the border wall — something he maintains is necessary to boost border security.

Tester touched on other current issues during the press call.

He brought up the Mueller Report, which he pushed “should be released in full” to the public. He said instead of relying on what the special counsel has found within the report, the public should be allowed to read it in its entirety and formulate their own opinions.

Democrats are pushing for a full release of the report, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, blocked on Monday, citing concerns over national security should it be released.

Tester also discussed the New Green Deal, which was expected to be put to a vote in the Senate on Tuesday. He turned his attention to McConnell, who has been vocal in his distaste for the Green New Deal and called the plan a “radical, top-down, socialist makeover of the entire U.S. economy” in a recent tweet.

“Senator McConnell wants to play politics rather than deal with climate change,” Tester said.

At the time of the interview, Tester said he was unsure how he plans to vote on the deal, but believes the topic of climate change warrants a lengthy debate.

©2019 the Daily Inter Lake (Kalispell, Mont.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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