December 21, 2007
Dear Mr. Bretney,
This week the House passed the Fiscal Year 2008 Appropriations package and it is now going to the President for his signature. I thought you might be interested in hearing about a provision that I included in that legislation to toughen our border security.
I first introduced this legislation as a stand-alone bill, called the Tunnel Enforcement Act (H.R. 4326). My legislation, as passed in the appropriations package, will ensure that the federal government can prosecute smugglers who tunnel into the United States .
This provision criminalizes the construction of tunnels under the U.S. border and adds this prohibition to the federal criminal code. It also creates criminal penalties for using tunnels to smuggle illegal aliens, goods, controlled substances, weapons, or terrorists.
Specifically, the Tunnel Enforcement Act established the following federal crimes and corresponding sentences.
oAny person who knowingly constructs or finances the construction of a tunnel or subterranean passage that crosses the international border between the United States and another country, other than a lawfully authorized tunnel or passage known to the Secretary of Homeland Security and subject to inspection by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, shall be fined under this title and imprisoned for not more than 20 years.
oAny person who knowingly or recklessly disregards the construction or use of a tunnel or passage described in subsection (a) on land that the person owns or controls shall be fined under this title and imprisoned for not more than 10 years.
oAny person who uses a tunnel or passage described in subsection (a) to unlawfully smuggle an alien, goods, controlled substances, weapons of mass destruction, or a member of a terrorist organization shall be subject to a maximum term of imprisonment that is twice the maximum term of imprisonment that would have otherwise been applicable had the unlawful activity not made use of such a tunnel or passage.
Securing our border is my highest priority in Congress, and I have consistently been an advocate for strengthened border security by supporting these measures in Congress:
oBorder Law Enforcement Enhancement Act (H.R. 2542) to fund enhanced law enforcement operations, as well as the detention and transfer of illegal aliens to federal authorities (cosponsor),
oTo provide for the next generation of border and maritime security technologies (H.R. 3916) by deploying UAVs and Advanced Tunnel Detection on the U.S.-Mexico border and study additional border security needs (cosponsor),
oMotion to Recommit on the Section 8 Voucher Reform Act of 2007 (H.R. 1851) to prevent illegal immigrants from receiving housing assistance,
oAlien Smuggling and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 (H.R. 2399) to increase penalties for smuggling an illegal immigrant into the U.S. (H.R. 2399), and
oDepartment of Defense Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2008 (H.R. 3222) to support $247 million for the continuing operations along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Additionally, I launched a vigorous campaign in Congress to add $55 million in much needed funding to the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP). This program reimburses our county and state law enforcement agencies for the costs of incarcerating illegal immigrants. Other members of Congress and the President proposed cutting this essential federal program. As a result of my added funding, Congress included a total of $410 million in SCAAP funding in the Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bill that passed the House as part of the FY 2008 Omnibus Appropriations package. The Omnibus funding package is going to the President for his signature which is expected promptly thereafter.
I always appreciate hearing from constituents, like you, who are informed and interested in issues of important to www.giffords.house.gov. and the nation. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if you require assistance. My job as your representative is to assist you with federal agencies, access services and get your policy questions answered thoroughly. Feel free to sign-up for e-news updates on my website at
Member of Congress