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Spanberger’s Bipartisan Legislation to Understand Impacts of Central American Trafficking & Smuggling Networks Included in House Intelligence Bill

The Congresswoman’s Legislation Would Direct the U.S. Intelligence Community to Prioritize Efforts to Understand Effects of Drug Trafficking, Human Trafficking, & Human Smuggling in the Northern Triangle & Mexico on U.S. National Security

Washington, July 17, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives voted to include U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger’s amendment to combat Central American trafficking and smuggling networks in the fiscal year 2020 Intelligence Authorization Act.

Spanberger’s amendment would direct the U.S. intelligence community to prioritize efforts to combat drug trafficking, human trafficking, and human smuggling networks in the Northern Triangle countries—Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador—and Mexico. Additionally, it would use the expertise of the intelligence community to understand how these criminal organizations in the region contribute to the ongoing humanitarian suffering at the U.S.-Mexico border. Spanberger introduced this amendment alongside U.S. Representative Will Hurd (R-TX-23). Spanberger and Hurd have also introduced a standalone version of this legislation.

During a speech delivered on the floor of the U.S. House, Spanberger spoke in support of her amendment, and she described the range of impacts Central American trafficking and smuggling activities can have on the health and safety of American communities.

Click here to watch her full remarks. A full transcript of her speech is provided below:

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I am proud to introduce this amendment alongside my colleague Congressman Hurd from Texas—himself also a former CIA case officer.

Our bipartisan amendment—the Trafficking and Smuggling Intelligence Act—comes at a time of great hardship, violence, and heartbreak across Mexico and the Northern Triangle Countries—and at a time of crisis at our Southern border.

This volatility in our backyard should be cause for serious concern. Here in the United States, we’ve experienced the devastating effects of the drug trade on the health of our citizens. And on our southwest border, we’ve witnessed how ongoing violence and instability in Central America is a driving factor for increased migration towards the United States.

Our bipartisan amendment would require intelligence assessments of drug trafficking organizations, human trafficking organizations, and human smugglers across Mexico and the Northern Triangle. These would include reports that can be released publicly to the American people.

Our amendment would direct our public servants to use their expertise to better understand the root causes of violence, instability, and migration.

With these improved assessments from DNI, we would be able to strengthen our national security in the face of threats from traffickers, smugglers, and other criminal organizations.

Like so many of our colleagues, Congressman Hurd and I recognize that if we are to keep Americans safe while also responsibly addressing the situation at the border, we must address the conditions at the core of instability we are seeing in Central America.

I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join us in supporting this amendment.

I yield back.

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The Spanberger-Hurd amendment would help build a long-term solution to the challenges posed by migration trends from Central America to the United States. Specifically, the Trafficking and Smuggling Intelligence Act would:

  • Require the Director of National Intelligence to provide Congress with analytical assessments of the activities of drug trafficking organizations, human traffickers, and human smugglers in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico;
  • Ensure the DNI’s assessments address how the activities of these organizations affect the security and economic situation in these countries and contribute to migration to the U.S.-Mexico border;
  • Direct the intelligence community to conduct a review of its activities in the Northern Triangle and assess whether its priorities are sufficient to address the threat posed by drug trafficking organizations, human traffickers and human smugglers to the security of the United States and the Western Hemisphere;
  • Instruct the intelligence community to provide Congress with a report on its review that includes a description of how it is modifying intelligence priorities to better address these threats; and,
  • Require quarterly reports to Congress on the intelligence community’s activities in the Northern Triangle and Mexico. These initial reports would be made public.

BACKGROUND

Spanberger has continued to advocate for smart, effective reforms to U.S. border security and immigration policies—and she has stressed the importance of addressing the root causes of increased migration. Last month, she joined a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives in passing a bipartisan emergency supplemental funding package to help mitigate the effects of the humanitarian crisis at the southern border.

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