This week, U.S. Representatives Mike Waltz (R-FL) and Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) introduced the bipartisan Extending Limits of U.S. Customs Waters Act to double law enforcement’s area of operation in coastal waters to enable more effective enforcement of U.S. customs laws, interdict drugs, and stop human traffickers.
This bill would extend the United States customs waters territory from 12 to 24 nautical miles, providing U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) additional latitude to enforce United States law and increase detection and interdiction of illegal cargoes with federal partners off of Florida’s shores. The bill would also codify the U.S. Coast Guards' jurisdiction in nearshore waters.
Law enforcement has reported a growing drug crisis nationwide due to the influx of drugs in our communities, killing nearly 100,000 Americans in 2020. According to CBP data, twice as much fentanyl was seized by authorities in 2021 as was seized the previous year.
“In Florida and communities across our country, we are safer when we give law enforcement the tools they need to do their jobs effectively,” said Rep. Murphy. “I’m proud to work with Congressman Mike Waltz, in partnership with Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Rick Scott, to enable federal law enforcement agencies to better protect Floridians from drug traffickers and human traffickers.”
“Illegal smuggling of drugs, cash, guns, and human trafficking victims into our country from maritime vessels continues to grow,” said Rep. Waltz. “With limited resources, we must ensure the U.S. Coast Guard and CBP AMO have the proper authority and jurisdiction to effectively protect Florida’s waters.”
The bill is very on-brand for both Waltz and Murphy. Waltz has a long history of supporting the military any way he can, being a veteran himself. Murphy, who has famously earned awards for her bipartisan efforts and centrist tendencies also has a history of backing national security measures, such as her recent bill on countering domestic terrorism.
Senators Rick Scott (R-FL) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) are backing the companion bill in the Senate.