Senators Rick Scott and Kyrsten Sinema Reintroduce Legislation to Crack Down on Drug and Human Trafficking
January 25, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senators Rick Scott, Kyrsten Sinema and James Lankford reintroduced the bipartisan Extending Limits of U.S. Customs Waters Act to extend the customs waters territory of the United States from 12 to 24 nautical miles from the baselines of the United States. The Extending Limits of U.S. Customs Waters Act will allow U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) the jurisdiction necessary to keep American families safe from drug and human traffickers. Currently, the USCG has this authority under a Presidential Proclamation, this would codify it into law. With modern technology constantly changing, the 12 nautical mile baseline is no longer sufficient for USCG and CBP AMO to successfully interdict vessels attempting to enter the United States. In the last year alone, Customs and Border Protection reported a record 2.7 million encounters and hundreds of thousands of tons of seized narcotics. These drugs, like fentanyl, still flood into U.S. communities and have taken more than 100,000 American lives in this same timeframe. By doubling their area of operation, AMO, USCG and other federal authorities will be able to better meet this challenge and further prevent these traffickers from reaching our shores. Representative Michael Waltz introduced the companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Last week, Senator Scott received a briefing from the U.S. Coast Guard, Monroe County Sheriff, and Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Operations on the local response to the ongoing migrant crisis in the Florida Keys.
Senator Rick Scott said, “What I saw last week in the Florida Keys is unacceptable, our country is experiencing record-high levels of illegal immigration and this needs to stop. Regrettably, we now see Biden’s disastrous policies of our Southwest border spill over to Florida’s shores. The U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations keep families in Florida and around our nation safe by patrolling the beaches, shore waters and maritime territory, conducting search and rescue operations and intercepting vessels transporting illegal drugs and the victims of human trafficking. Our bill, the Extending U.S. Customs Waters Act, will extend the United States’ customs waters territory to help ensure our Coast Guard and CBP AMO has the jurisdiction and authority needed to cut down on drug and human trafficking so that families everywhere remain safe. I am thankful for the bipartisan support and I urge all my colleagues to support this important bill.”
Senator Kyrsten Sinema said, “We’re expanding law enforcement agencies’ ability to stop drug and human traffickers, helping keep communities across our country safe and secure.”
Representative Michael Waltz said, “Biden’s failed border policies also extend out to the sea. Over the past few months, we’ve seen an influx of drug and human traffickers washing up on Florida’s shores. We must give our federal law enforcement officials the authorities to more effectively intercept and catch these lawbreakers and keep our communities safe.”
The Extending Limits of U.S. Customs Waters Act:
- Would formally extend the law enforcement authorities of CBP AMO and codify the U.S. Coast Guard maritime authority in U.S. Customs Waters from 12 nautical miles to 24 nautical miles.
- Would update a number of existing laws, and codify the 1999 Presidential Proclamation 7219—The Contiguous Zone of the United States, which formally established the United States’ contiguous zone from the 12 nautical mile limit of the U.S. Customs Waters to 24 nautical miles. By extending jurisdiction into the near shore waters and doubling the area of operation, AMO, USCG, and other federal authorities can properly enforce U.S. customs, fiscal and sanitary laws at sea.