Lankford, Sinema raise concerns about security of border entry ports preparedness after migrant rush
FIRST ON FOX: Senators James Lankford, R-Ok., and Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ari., sent a letter to the General Services Administration (GSA) raising their concerns about the preparedness of Land Ports of Entry (LPOEs) at both the northern and southern borders.
Lankford and Sinema, the leaders of the Senate’s border management subcommittee, sent a letter to GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan asking for information on the agency’s “management” of LPOEs at the borders.
The senators warned that, ahead of Title 42’s expiration in May, the ports “along the southern border in particular are preparing to navigate a potential influx in migration in addition to their normal trade, travel, and security missions.”
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“We are concerned that GSA’s work has not provided CBP with what they need at the time they need it for the challenges they face at our ports,” the lawmakers wrote.
“GSA informed Congress that ‘Steady global and regional growth has funneled more people and goods through the Nation’s aging land port of entry infrastructure than it is able to handle. Two-thirds of our land ports of entry have not had capital improvement over the last decade,'” the letter reads.
“Many LPOEs were built prior to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and many have not seen modernizations to reflect our new trade obligations under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement (USMCA),” it continued.
The senators pointed to a “recent Atlantic Council report” which “found a ’10 minute reduction in wait times [at LPOEs] would lead to an average of 388 new loaded containers entering the United States from Mexico monthly'” and that this “‘translates to $25.9 million worth of cargo crossing through the United States’ four border states’ and into the interior.”
“Our LPOEs could help us address the continued supply chain hurdles our country is facing while expanding trade flows with Mexico and Central America; however, our aging LPOE infrastructure is holding back our ability to nimbly respond shifting supply chains and expand cross-border trade,” the lawmakers wrote.
Lankford and Sinema wrote that they “are concerned about the impact of aging port infrastructure on our cross-border security needs” and pointed to the thousands of pounds of fentanyl seized at the southern border as a major reason.
“This concerning trend suggests that fentanyl flows are continuing to significantly increase along the southern border, and we are concerned that our aging LPOE infrastructure is inhibiting our ability to put an end to the fentanyl crisis,” the senators wrote.
They also noted the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimated that the end of Title 42 at the border would bring between 11,000 and 13,000 migrant encounters at the southern border per day.
“If DHS’ projections are correct, the impending influx of migrants following the termination of Title 42, coupled with our aging port infrastructure, could lead to significant impacts on cross-border trade and security,” the senators warned.
“We are concerned that GSA’s role in managing the ports has been absent from broader conversations around border security and border management. LPOEs have particularly unique infrastructure and resourcing needs given their crosscutting trade, travel, and security missions,” they wrote.
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The senators unleashed a torrent of questions upon Carnahan regarding the status of the southern border’s LPOEs, including the number of ports managed by GSA and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), how much rent CPB pays GSA for the LPOEs, and where the rent funds go, among other questions.
GSA did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment on the letter.
The letter comes days after the Sunday migrant rush in El Paso, Texas, that saw thousands of illegal immigrants rush the southern border in an attempt to gain entry to America.
Texas Rep. Tony Gonzales, a Republican who represents a large swath of border in the Lone Star State, told Fox News Digital on Monday the migrant rush in El Paso appears to be the result of illegal migrants being told it was “D?a de Los Migrants” – Day of the Migrants.
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“They were told, and I’m trying to figure out by who, all indications point that it was cartel essentially feeding this information to the migrants, saying that yesterday was ‘Day of the Migrants’ and they were going to be allowed in the United States via the port of entry,” Gonzales told Fox News Digital.
“And they just essentially overran the port, at least on the Mexican side,” Gonzales continued. “And this is where a little bit of disinformation just gets spun, and it becomes a dangerous situation for everybody.”