Torres Small backs bipartisan bill for border security analysis

Is a wall the most effective way to secure the border with Mexico?

How big of a challenge is communication between Border Patrol agents and law enforcement officers in rural areas along the border?

Members of Congress could receive answers to those questions and others if a piece of legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-N.M., becomes law.

“Since day one, I’ve been calling for a mile-by-mile analysis so that we can find the best ways that we can secure our borders from drugs, human smuggling and make sure we are investing in our border communities,” Torres Small told the Journal.

She is among lawmakers of both parties who introduced the Southwest Border Security Technology Act in both chambers of Congress last week.

“This bipartisan effort would require that analysis and is another step forward to crafting border policy that reflects the realities on the ground,” she said.

Torres Small said the Department of Homeland Security would conduct the analysis “not just between our ports of entry but at our ports of entry.”

The analysis would assess technology needs and gaps along the border to “prevent terrorists and instruments of terror” from entering the country, as well as address criminal activity such as the transport of illegal drugs, human smuggling and human trafficking.

It would also look at what is needed to facilitate the flow of legal trade across the Southwest border.

It would look at the use of manned and unmanned aerial systems, tower-based surveillance technology, non-intrusive inspection technology and tunnel detection technology.

The analysis would also look at staffing needs at different points along the border as well as seek ways to improve cooperation among federal, state, tribal, local and Mexican law enforcement agencies involved in border security.

PESTACIDE-USE REFORM: U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., introduced the Protect America’s Children from Toxic Pesticides Act of 2020 last week.

The legislation seeks to prevent the use of toxic pesticides that harm children, farmworkers and consumers in the U.S.

“This bill updates our laws so that they adhere to the science. And the science is warning us that we must protect critical links in our food chain, and protect children and farmworkers from brain damage and other health risks of dangerous pesticides,” Udall said during a press call.

The legislation would ban the use of pesticides such as organophosphate insecticides, which are linked to neurodevelopmental damage in children; neonicotinoid insecticides, which has been said to contribute to pollinator collapse around the world; and paraquat, which has been linked to an increase in Parkinson’s disease and is already banned in 32 countries, including those in the European Union.

The bill would require employers of farmworkers to report all pesticide-caused illnesses to the Environmental Protection Agency, with penalties for failure to report illnesses or retaliating against workers. It would direct the EPA to review pesticide injury reports and work with the pesticide manufacturers to develop better labeling to prevent illness.

It would require all pesticide label instructions be written in Spanish and in any language spoken by more than 500 pesticide applicators.

“The farmworkers who feed our country face dangerous chemical exposure without recourse to protect their health, and surrounding communities bear the frontline costs of pesticide runoff in their land, water, and air – making these communities more susceptible to diseases like COVID-19,” Udall said.

Scott Turner: sturner@abqjournal.com

 

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