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Schumer Calls On US Attorney General To Personally Step In To Resolve Remaining Issues So Shared Border Management Can Move Forward Once And For All

With the FBI Having Jurisdiction over Key Law Enforcement Issues at Border Crossings, Schumer Calls on AG Gonzales to Personally Intervene and Meet with Top Canadian Officials to Resolve Outstanding Issues Including Fingerprinting

Schumer: There is Room to Make a Deal that Works for All Sides But We Must Have Key Leaders Engaged Now

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on United States Attorney General Alberto Gonzales asking him to personally intervene in the Shared Border Management negotiations. Schumer, who has long led the fight to institute shared border management, recently lobbied with both Canadian Security Minister Stockwell Day and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to stay focused until a deal is done. Schumer said that any and all outstanding issues, including fingerprinting at the border checkpoint, must be resolved by the appropriate agencies and that, in order to keep recent momentum going, the talks must stay at the highest levels of the departments involved. "The reason we have seen progress these last weeks is because the topdogs have been talking, Schumer said. And the only way to keep the momentum going is if it stays that way. There is no doubt that the remaining issues will be difficult to resolve but there is room to make a deal and the only way to do that is to have key players engaged now. The difficulty getting to the finish line has certainly been frustrating, but the discussions are now at the principal level where they must stay until a final agreement has been hammered out. Schumer said that one of the last major remaining issues concerns developing a protocol for travelers coming from Canada who decide not to cross the border after their primary inspection. U.S. practice is to require these travelers to be fingerprinted, but Canadian law prevents border guards from fingerprinting these travelers.

Once it was thought that guns were an insurmountable barrier, at other times people felt the same about information sharing and arrest protocols, but as each government has focused on the details, agreement has been forged. Why? Because Shared Border Management will be a boon to both nations. With the ongoing participation from Minister Day and Secretary Chertoff and now Gonzalez, I know we can do the same for the remaining issues, said Schumer.

In just the last month, through dialogue facilitated by Schumer, Canadian and U.S. officials have successfully resolved issues relating to arming border guards, cooperative policing, information gathering and collecting, and arrest procedures, concerns that had bogged down progress for years. Schumer said that the next month will be a critical time for ensuring that Shared Border Management can become a reality.

In his letter, Schumer wrote, To find a resolution, shared border management must be handled at the highest levels of government, and thus I respectfully ask that you both facilitate talks between Secretary Chertoff, Minister Day and any other relevant officials and become involved on behalf of the Department of Justice as necessary.

Schumer has led the charge to bring the U.S. and Canadian governments together; lobbying them for years to develop a joint customs and border management plan for Northern Border crossings. Last week, Schumer met with Stockwell Day in his Washington DC office and spoke with Chertoff personally. In September 2006, Schumer announced a new deal between U.S. and Canadian officials that would allow Canadian officers to carry weapons at the check point. In December 2004, Schumer, along with Former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge, announced the initial agreement between the US and Canada to pursue the shared border management model.

The shared border management plan will serve as a model for moving people and commerce securely and efficiently across the U.S.Canadian border. Negotiations continue almost two years since U.S. and Canadian officials first announced the plans to make shared border management a reality.

Under the agreement between the U.S. and Canadian governments, it was determined that there would be two pilot sites for the plan at the Peace Bridge and Alexandria Bay. Under a shared border management plan, all of the U.S. and Canadian border facilities are located on one side of the border. The pilot at the Peace Bridge will involve the relocation of all U.S. primary and secondary border operations for both commercial and passenger traffic from Buffalo to Fort Erie, and in Alexandria Bay, Canadian border functions will be moved to the Watertown side of the border.