Urges funding for increased staffing and the pre-inspection pilot project
Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, spoke on the House Floor today urging the Homeland Security appropriations subcommittee to provide sufficient funding for the programs necessary to ensure the free flow of people and goods at the northern border. Budget funding for the Department of Homeland Security is set to expire at the end of February. The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the homeland security appropriations bill next week.
Higgins was joined by fellow members of the congressional northern border caucus, Reps. DelBene and Cramer, in sending a letter to the Homeland Security appropriations subcommittee urging it to maintain increased staff levels along the U.S./Canada border, as well as funding for the pre-inspection pilot program at the Peace Bridge.
The subcommittee provided funding in fiscal year 2014 for an additional 2,000 Customs and Border Patrol officers to fill positions at air, land and seaports throughout the country. A study found increased staffing returns economic benefits in the form of time savings and job creation.
The pre-inspection pilot project has helped to expedite the flow of commercial traffic by moving primary inspections to Canada at crossings in Buffalo and Blaine, Washington.
"Mr. Speaker, There are 329 ports of entry across the United States, four of which are located in my district of Western New York. These border crossings provide opportunity for trade and commerce, require sufficient levels of security, and provide enormous economic benefits to our nation," Higgins said. "Today I asked the Homeland Security appropriations subcommittee to include funding for the programs necessary to ensure the free flow of people and goods at the northern border.
"Specifically, funding is needed to sustain the recent increase in Customs and Border Patrol officer staffing levels. This increase offers significant economic benefits by reducing wait times.
"Also, I asked for funding to support the pre-inspection pilot program, which will expedite the flow of traffic by moving primary cargo inspections to Canada at crossings in Buffalo, New York, and Blaine, Washington.
"Mr. Speaker, I will continue to push for these and other measures to integrate the economies of our border communities with our Canadian neighbors. I urge the committee to support them as well."
New York's 26th District is home to four border crossings with neighboring Canada. Higgins is a co-chair of the congressional northern border caucus and has long been an advocate of improving efficiency of border crossings.