Dem lawmaker warns of 'undetected' items entering US at border

Rep. Scott PetersScott H. PetersPro-business Dem group sees boost in fundraising Overnight Energy: Trump moves to speed up pipeline construction | House Dems urge Senate to reject Interior nominee | Dem offers plan for 'filling in the blanks' of Green New Deal Dem lawmaker offers tool for 'filling in the blanks' of Green New Deal MORE (D-Calf.) said Thursday that the U.S. should bolster its efforts at ports of entry along the nation's southern border, saying a major threat to border security is what's coming in "undetected."

"In terms of what’s a threat, the threat is what’s coming through the ports of entry undetected because we haven’t given our customs agents enough support, staffing, technology and so forth,” Peters told Hill.TV’s Buck Sexton and Jamal Simmons during an interview on “Rising.”

“I think that’s where we should concentrate in terms of border security,” added Peters, who represents California’s 52nd congressional district, which includes both coastal and central parts of San Diego County.

The congressman acknowledged that while there are security issues at such border entrances, the federal government should treat them as an opportunity rather than a threat. 

“We have a lot of problems at the border, but we should also recognize that, for San Diego, we see the border not as a threat but as an opportunity,” Peters told Hill.TV, noting that the port of San Ysidro alone generates billions worth of economic activity. 

Peters argued that if President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump calls Sri Lankan prime minister following church bombings Ex-Trump lawyer: Mueller knew Trump had to call investigation a 'witch hunt' for 'political reasons' The biggest challenge from the Mueller Report depends on the vigilance of everyone MORE was concerned about border security he would rethink his demands for a border wall and instead reopen the federal government. 

The funding lapse that began Dec. 22 has hit a number of federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security.  

Peters noted that many in his district impacted by the shutdown are "a critical part of our security infrastructure." He said that includes not only TSA agents at airports but members of the Coast Guard and Border Patrol agents.

“If he’s really concerned about security and not about politics, let’s open this government and get these people paid,” Peters said of the president.

The stalemate over Trump’s border wall stretched into its 34th day Thursday, as lawmakers have yet to reach a compromise over a funding deal. 

The Senate on Thursday rejected two separate measures to end what has become the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, including a White House-backed proposal and a Democratic-back stopgap spending bill.

—Tess Bonn