WASHINGTON – Congressman Vern Buchanan today announced that the U.S. House passed four of his proposals as part of the Fiscal Year 2024 homeland security funding package. This is on top of three other Buchanan amendments that passed the House earlier this week as part of the defense spending package.
Two of Buchanan’s four proposals are aimed at curbing the massive flow of illegal immigration and securing the border with new technology.
“From crime and human trafficking to deadly fentanyl pouring across our border in record amounts, we must protect our communities from the tidal wave of illegal immigration endangering the lives of the American people,” said Buchanan. “While the president refuses to find solutions to our illegal immigration problem, these two initiatives were introduced with one goal in mind – securing the border.”
Buchanan’s first proposal would dedicate $3 million to the Department of Homeland Security to increase physical technology, like drones and security cameras, along the border as well as the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to ensure cutting-edge technology is used to monitor our border.
In August 2023, more than 232,000 illegal immigrants tried to cross the southern border, averaging nearly 6,000 per day. Since President Biden took office, there have been over 6 million encounters at the southern border, in additional to the nearly 1.6 million known gotaways who evaded U.S. Border Patrol.
The second proposal related to border security would dedicate $3 million to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to increase opioid detection technology. In the current fiscal year, CBP has seized 25,901 pounds of fentanyl at the southern border, enough to kill around six billion people.
Legislation closely mirroring’s Buchanan’s Federal Initiative to Guarantee Health by Targeting (FIGHT) Fentanyl Act (H.R.3629) passed the U.S. House earlier this year to make permanent the current, albeit temporary, classification of fentanyl-related substances as Schedule I drugs. This legislation would crack down on the scourge of deadly fentanyl and provide law enforcement with the tools they need to keep these deadly drugs off our streets.
Buchanan also had an amendment included in the FY24 homeland security funding bill to provide $2 million to bolster investigations for missing and exploited children.
“Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery,” said Buchanan. “This amendment will help bring children who have fallen victim to the horrors of human trafficking back into their families’ arms.”
Earlier this year, Buchanan introduced legislation to help combat human trafficking by educating students about how to properly identify the warning signs. Children account for more than half of all trafficking victims.
According to an October 2022 report by the Florida’s Department of Children and Families, the Suncoast region had the second-most human trafficking reports of any region in the state. Orange, Miami-Dade and Hillsborough Counties had the highest number of human trafficking reports received by the Florida Abuse Hotline.
The last Buchanan provision included in the spending bill calls for increased investments in pre-disaster mitigation efforts. Buchanan was joined by his fellow Florida Republican colleagues Congressmen Neal Dunn and Gus Bilirakis in introducing this amendment.
“This hurricane season has already left the state of Florida with extensive damage, and it’s not over yet,” said Buchanan. “Thorough preparation is the best tool we have to endure the wrath of a storm and this amendment highlights the need for the federal government to take pre-disaster mitigation seriously.”
Earlier this year, Hurricane Idalia inflicted as much as $20 billion in damage to Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas after making landfall in Florida’s Big Bend. Hurricane Ian, the Category 4 storm that decimated parts of southwest Florida in 2022, caused over $100 billion in damage and was responsible for nearly 150 deaths.