SCHUMER DEMANDS DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY IMMEDIATELY RELEASE ITS LEGALLY-MANDATED, YET OVERDUE, REPORT ON CUSTOMS STAFFING AT NORTHERN PORTS OF ENTRY; SENATOR SAYS A FULLY STAFFED NORTHERN BORDER CUSTOMS PERSONNEL IS PARAMOUNT TO ECONOMY-BOOSTING CROSS-BORDER TOURISM, TRADE & SECURITY
After U.S. Customs And Border Protection Unveiled A Plan To Temporarily Move Up To 300 Northern Border Officers To The Southern Border In April, Schumer Fought To Pass Legislation Requiring The Department Of Homeland Security To Release Up-To-Date Northern Border Staffing Numbers By August 1st
With August 1st Deadline In The Rearview Mirror And The Congressionally-Required Report Nowhere To Be Found, Schumer Demands Department Of Homeland Security Issue Findings To Congress Immediately
Schumer To DHS: With Billions In Cross-Border Trade At Risk, And Long Lines Looming, Northern Border Communities Can’t Afford Any More Delay—Buffalo-Niagara, Watertown-St. Lawrence And The North Country All Severely Impacted
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer released a new letter today urging the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to immediately release its overdue report on U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) staffing at northern ports of entry.
In June, Congress passed the Emergency Border Supplemental Appropriations for Humanitarian Assistance and Security at the Southern Border Act of 2019, which was signed into law at the beginning of July and includes a provision requiring the Secretary of Homeland Security to issue a report to Congress by August 1, 2019 on the number of CBP officers assigned to northern ports of entry that have since been transferred to southern ports of entry.
Schumer fought tooth and nail to pass the provision, after the administration revealed it would be transferring up to 300 customs officers to the southern border, and following reports that numerous officers in Western New York had already been transferred. Citing the importance of a fully staffed customs operation to cross border trade, tourism and security, with over $400 billion in gross domestic product generated in just the Buffalo-Niagara region every year—and commensurate impacts in the St. Lawrence River and Lake Champlain crossings—Schumer demanded that DHS make public its report without any more delay.
A copy of Schumer’s letter to DHS appears below.
Dear Acting Secretary McAleenan:
I write to request that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) immediately release its report on U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) staffing at northern ports of entry.
Last month, Congress passed the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Humanitarian Assistance and Security at the Southern Border Act of 2019, which was signed into law by the president on July 1, 2019. The law requires that by August 1, 2019, the Secretary of Homeland Security provide Congress with a report on the number of CBP officers assigned to northern border ports of entry who have been reassigned to the southern border. The report also requires DHS to outline what resources and conditions would allow a return to previous northern border staffing levels as well as the efforts being made to limit the impact on operations at each northern border port of entry where officers have been reassigned.
This report is of great interest to many border communities in New York and across the nation which do not wish to see commerce interrupted by increased wait times, or their security threatened by the lack of adequate staffing. In particular, Western and Northern New York rely heavily on cross-border tourism during the summer months. The Buffalo-Niagara Region is home to eight million people who generate over $400 billion in gross domestic product for both the U.S. and Canada, while the St. Lawrence River corridor and the Lake Champlain corridor also rely on and generate substantial cross-border commerce and tourism. Additionally, the Peace Bridge alone accounts for nearly five million vehicular crossings per year, and over two million Canadian visitors traverse the Rouses Point crossing and the Thousand Islands, Ogdensburg-Prescott, Massena-Cornwall International bridges combined each year, providing a significant boost to New York’s economy.
By diverting CBP officers assigned to northern border to the southern border, CBP has created potential staffing shortages that could be a disincentive for tourists seeking to cross the border at a critical time. In order to fully understand the scope of this problem, Congress and the public must have access to this report.
Regrettably, the deadline for DHS to provide this report has come and gone. Failure to provide it complicates Congress’s ability to conduct oversight for and take action on behalf of our northern border communities. Any further delays would be unacceptable. Accordingly, I request that you direct the Department to take all necessary action to ensure that this report is provided to Congress and the public immediately.
I appreciate your prompt attention to this matter.
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