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Washington, DCU.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff requesting the publication of an overdue report on the Department’s plan to identify, secure, and fill tunnels that are discovered along the border. 

The report was required by the FY’07 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill and was due on February 8, 2007.  In addition, Senator Feinstein has made numerous requests to the Department of Homeland Security for information regarding unfilled tunnels along the border.

Senator Feinstein authored legislation in the 109th Congress to criminalize the act of constructing or financing a tunnel or subterranean passage across an international border into the United States.  The measure was included FY’07 DHS Appropriations bill and has been signed into law.

The following is the text of Senator Feinstein’s letter to Secretary Chertoff:

February 23, 2007

Secretary Michael Chertoff
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Nebraska Avenue Center, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20528

Dear Secretary Chertoff:

I was disappointed to learn that the Department of Homeland Security has not yet submitted its report to Congress regarding the establishment of a clear policy on border tunnels. As you know, this report was required by the 2007 Appropriations bill and was due on February 8, 2007.

This report is necessary to clarify responsibilities within the Department of Homeland Security for identifying, securing, and ultimately filling tunnels that are discovered crossing our land borders. Additionally, the report is intended to identify the agency and funding source responsible for filling tunnels. As I explained to you in my letter on February 6, 2007, despite the existence of seven unfilled border tunnels and my repeated requests for information on what is needed to fill them, I still have not received any response from the Department.

Since September 11, 2001, forty-seven tunnels have been discovered in the United States, thirty of which were located in California. These tunnels pose an unmistakable threat to our nation's homeland security. It is imperative that the Department establish clear jurisdictional guidelines and responsibilities for the agencies involved in their detection and demolition as soon as possible. It is equally important that the Department alert Congress to any authorization or funding needs necessary to fill the existing tunnels.

This is an issue of high priority for me and I am concerned that we have yet to receive further details or action from the Department. I appreciate your consideration of my inquiry and I look forward to your imminent publication of this now overdue border tunnel report.

Best regards.
 
                Sincerely yours,
                   
                Dianne Feinstein
                United States Senator

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