FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 26, 2012
SCHUMER SECURES NAPOLITANO’S SUPPORT FOR CUSTOMS AND BORDER PATROL STATION AT NIAGARA FALLS AIR BASE – WITH TOP BRASS AT DHS ON BOARD, SENATOR WILL PUSH TO SECURE FUNDS TO BUILD FACILITY
Today during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer secured the support of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano for building a new Customs and Border Protection Station at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (NFARS). Secretary Napolitano told Schumer during today’s hearing that the Department of Homeland Security is considering placing a new CBP station at the Niagara Falls Border Patrol Station.
With Napolitano’s support, Schumer today reiterated his call to the Department of Homeland Security to find funding for this new construction within appropriations for either construction and facilities management or border infrastructure in their Fiscal Year 2012 budget. Napolitano told Schumer that NFARS is on the list of possible sites, and that she supports building the facility on the base provided that the Department can locate funding for the construction. Construction of a new border patrol station at NFARS would be critical to CBP's mission as it would accommodate up to 75 agents at the facility, and would provide additional space for training, administration, vehicle maintenance and other activities that are essential to protecting the northern border.
“I’m pleased that Secretary Napolitano understands that the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station would be a great place for Customs and Border Protection to call home,” said Schumer. “It’s clear that Homeland Security recognizes that the base would be a great fit with CBP’s border protection role, and the Secretary’s support for this project is essential to making it happen. Now that DHS is on board, I’m going to push them to put their money where their mouth is, and find the funds that will turn this border station from a blueprint to reality. This station would be a big boost for border safety, and a huge boost to the Reserve Station that is so important to Western New York.
Schumer, along with Senator Gillibrand and Representatives Slaughter, Higgins and Hochul are urging Customs and Border Protection to choose the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station as the location to construct a new Border Patrol station and to appropriate necessary funding for the plan through either construction and facilities management or border infrastructure investments for FY12. The CBP is in the process of identifying a location for a new Border Patrol station to replace the Niagara Falls Border Patrol Station, which is outdated and cannot properly house the number of agents currently working there. The new station at NFARS would provide 50 border protection agents comfortable accommodations, and could be modified to accommodate up to 75 agents. If constructed at NFARS, the new Border Patrol Station would bring a variety of facility and resource upgrades, and would include administrative buildings, a K-9 unit, additional training and detention facilities, as well as more space for parking and vehicle maintenance. The Western New York delegation is pushing for the federal government to choose the NFARS for the construction of this new station and to appropriate necessary funding to do so, to ensure that the agents can be best equipped and trained to protect the northern border and to ensure the continued vitality of the station. Secretary Napolitano’s support for the project is a significant step in the right direction.
Schumer and the rest of the delegation’s push to bring the CBP's new border patrol station to Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station would help strengthen the station's mission and maintain its critical role in our national security and in the Western New York economy. In January, the Department of Defense announced that it would seek to make major cutbacks at bases across the country in order to slim down the defense budget over the next decade. The Department's announcement highlighted Air Force plans to retire 65 C-130 aircraft cargo planes, like those at the Niagara Falls base, and also raised a longer term proposal to conduct two rounds of military base closures in the next several years. Following that announcement the lawmakers' wrote to Secretary Leon Panetta to highlight that the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, which supports 2,630 employees and an annual direct economic impact of $131 million, is too critical to both the nation's military and Western New York's economy to be considered for cutbacks. Secretary Panetta indicated yesterday that he may be restoring some of the Air National Guard cuts at bases around the country, which could save positions at NFARS.
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