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Northern Border Caucus members, co-chairs Higgins & Stefanik press DHS to rescind transfers & preserve strong staffing levels at border between US & Canada

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Wed, May 8th 2019 02:15 pm

Letter comes after department announced plans to divert CBP officers from northern border to southern border

Congress members Brian Higgins (D-NY-26) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21), who serve as co-chairs of the Congressional Northern Border Caucus, are leading a push to ensure U.S. Customs and Border Protection maintain strong staffing levels at airports and ports of entry between the U.S. and Canada. The move comes following a recent announcement by the Department of Homeland Security of plans to transfer CBP officers stationed along the northern border and U.S. airports to posts at the southern border.

In a bipartisan letter led by Higgins and Stefanik and signed by 11 additional members of the Northern Border Caucus, the Congress members write, in part, “CBP’s consistent inability to attain its statutorily established minimum staffing levels and the reduction of service hours at several land ports of entry along the northern border, coupled with further reduction of staffing due to this deployment will cause excessive delays at crossings, expose the nation to security risks, and highlight key vulnerabilities.”

The letter, also signed by Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY-27), amongst others, asks Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan to “immediately rescind the transfer of the Customs and Border Protection officers to the southern border.”

Leaders are concerned the timing of the CBP transfers is particularly bad, as border-crossing data shows northern border crossings see steep increases over the summer months. They point out, “We are approaching the heaviest travel months of the year and ports of entry will be facing increased volume. The decision to deploy northern border CBP officers to the southern border makes it increasingly more difficult for the agency to meet their core mission requirements at the border which include effectively securing U.S. points of entry and safeguarding and streamlining lawful trade and travel.”

Image provided by Rep. Brian Higgins' office.

The northern border constitutes the longest land boundary between two countries in the world, at 5,525 miles. Approximately 400,000 people and more than $1.6 billion in goods cross the border daily through more than 120 ports of entry.

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