Kelly, Sinema Secure Bipartisan Bills Boosting Border Security Staff and Resources, Combating Cartel Smuggling, and Preventing the Flow of Fentanyl in Annual Defense Legislation  

The three bipartisan bills help Customs and Border Protection secure the border and stop the trafficking of drugs 

Arizona Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema successfully included three bills to secure the border and combat fentanyl trafficking in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  

Kelly and Sinema’s bipartisan Border Patrol Enhancement Act improves Border Patrol agent overtime pay; the Combating Cartels on Social Media Act cracks down on cartels’ illegal and dangerous recruitment of teenagers through social media to conduct smuggling and trafficking; and the FEND Off Fentanyl Act strengthens America’s response to the fentanyl crisis and stops the flow of fentanyl into Arizona by targeting cartels financially. Also included in the NDAA, Kelly’s bipartisan END FENTANYL Act will ensure Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has regularly updated operational policies to respond to illegal activity at ports of entry, including drug trafficking and human smuggling.  

“The Border Patrol Enhancement Act will ensure that border patrol agents have the support, resources, and pay they deserve,” said Kelly. “Strengthening our border security is a priority I’ve been working on since I was elected to Congress, and our bill passing the Senate is an important step toward that goal.”  

“A secure border relies on a strong workforce. Once our bills become law, our men and women in green and blue can better crack down on drug trafficking, human smuggling, and other dangerous crimes to keep Arizonans safe and secure, while protecting our cross-border economy,” said Sinema, Chair of the Senate Border Management Subcommittee. 

Kelly and Sinema’s bipartisan Border Patrol Enhancement Act improves the Border Patrol workforce by setting a staffing level for the Border Patrol based on the needs outlined in a Personnel Requirements Determination Model, and making sure that Border Patrol agents receive fair pay for scheduled overtime work.  

The Arizona’s Border Patrol sectors have had recruiting and retention problems for years, and increasing migrant encounters diverts Border Patrol agents from their core duties and towards migrant processing. Temporary duty assignments from other sectors help the Tucson and Yuma Sectors maintain appropriate staffing, but when additional sectors are overwhelmed by migrant arrivals, it is not possible to sufficiently staff all sectors.  

“I have heard from our sheriffs, Border Patrol agents, and community leaders about how cartel drug trafficking operations harm communities every day,” said Kelly. “The federal government must have a vigorous response to stop these criminals and keep dangerous drugs, like fentanyl, from poisoning Arizonans. These bills will go after the cartels and their recruitment of smugglers to make Arizona communities safer.”  

“I’m committed to keeping Arizona communities safe and secure by stopping dangerous cartels from smuggling drugs across the border. Our bipartisan bills crack down on the flow of fentanyl, help stop human smuggling, and give Arizona families peace of mind. Once they’re signed into law, they’ll make Arizona – and America – a safer, healthier place to call home,” said Sinema.  

Recent findings show that fentanyl seizures in Arizona account for over half of all the fentanyl seizures in the United States.   

The FEND Off Fentanyl Act requires the U.S. Treasury Department to prioritize the fentanyl epidemic and deploy its sanctions and anti-money laundering authorities to target the illicit funds of criminal cartels. The bill also declares the international trafficking of opioids to be a national emergency, requires the President to sanction a drug cartel’s key members engaged in the international opioid trade, and extends the statute of limitations from 5 years to 10 years for sanctions violations to increase chances to catch these criminals. Additionally, Kelly and Sinema’s FEND Off Fentanyl Act follows the money trail and makes it harder for opioid traffickers to engage in money laundering to hide their crimes.  

Kelly and Sinema’s Combating Cartels on Social Media Act establishes and implements a national strategy to combat illicit cartel recruitment activity on social media and other online platforms to fight back against cartels using online platforms to recruit Arizonans for smuggling operations along the Southwest border. The strategy will help law enforcement hold cartels accountable while also giving border communities in Arizona the tools they need to engage with and educate at-risk youth who are targeted by the cartels.  

The Senators’ legislationalso requires the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to analyze cartels’ illicit usage of social media and establishes a process for technology companies to voluntarily report cartel recruitment efforts in the United States to DHS and state and local partners.