WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jon Tester is taking a bigger role in bipartisan negotiations over border security, his office announced Wednesday.
Tester, a Montana Democrat, met Tuesday with Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen and senators from both parties to develop an agreement before Feb. 8, when the federal government faces another possible shutdown.
Tester had voted against another bipartisan deal Jan. 22 that reopened the government for three weeks to allow lawmakers and the White House to reach an agreement on border security and immigration. Tester had said he prefers a long-term agreement.
Tester says he wants a border security deal to include the following provisions:
- Hire up to 500 new Border Patrol officers annually until the 3,600 Border Patrol shortage is addressed.
- Invest in new technologies, vehicles, roads, and facilities to better secure the borders.
- Require Border Patrol Agents to use fiber optic detection technology to better detect border crossings.
- Provide Operation Stonegarden grants to support local law enforcement in their efforts to secure our borders.
- Require Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to report on the use of devices that monitor cell phone conversations along the border.
- Encourage the Department of Homeland Security to purchase protective gear and uniforms that are made in the U.S.