Senator Ernst. (file photo from Ag Committee)

Senator Joni Ernst says trained dogs should search every vehicle driving north through border crossings along the U.S./Mexico border — to stop the flow of fentanyl and other illegal drugs.

“Dogs are about as low tech as you can get, but they are one of the best ways to find those drugs,” Ernst says. “They’re very, very efficient.”

Ernst recently saw a patrol with up to five drug sniffing dogs in action at the border crossing at San Diego.

“Those dogs could quickly detect any illicit materials that are in those cars,” Ernst says.

There are 38 border crossings for vehicle traffic between the U.S. and Mexico — the San Diego Port of Entry is the world’s busiest land border crossing. Ernst says they’re training more dogs and handlers to take shifts there and it will take a while to have enough canines to search all border crossings.

“The Port of Entry in San Diego has 34 lanes of traffic with 70,000 vehicles and 20,000 pedestrians crossing every single day,” Ernst says. “This initial canine screening should be happening on every single vehicle entering this country and right now that’s simply not happening.”

Ernst led a congressional delegation to the southern border this past weekend, with stops in California and New Mexico. Iowans Randy Feenstra and Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who serve in the U.S. House, were part on the trip. The group went to Mexico City as well. Feenstra says the meeting with Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs focused on Mexico’s proposal to ban the import of genetically modified corn, starting in 2024.

“We had a great discussion with him about how we could move forward and make sure that we could continue the opportunity of exporting our corn to Mexico,” Feenstra says, “and we’re hoping there’s a solution in the next 6-12 months concerning this issue.”

Miller-Meeks says she found Mexican officials willing partners. “They absolutely want to be doing the job of helping to make Mexico safe as well as stop the flow of illegal drugs into the United States,” she says.

Miller-Meeks says adding canine units on both sites of the border makes sense, as it doesn’t cost as much or take up land like cameras and other monitoring devices.

Radio Iowa