SCHUMER, DURING FIRST MEETING WITH PRESIDENT-ELECT BIDEN’S DHS NOMINEE, ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, PUSHES HOMELAND SECURITY NOMINEE TO ADDRESS CONGESTION AT THE NORTHERN BORDER UPON CONFIRMATION; BEFORE EVEN PRESIDENT-ELECT TAKES OFFICE, SENATOR MAKES WESTERN NY SECURITY, ECONOMIC CONCERNS, AND PROSPERITY A TOP PRIORITY
Schumer Has Worked For Years With Multiple Administrations To Resolve Delays At Peace Bridge, Which Impede Cross-Border Commerce & Create Security Vulnerabilities
Senator Plugs WNY Priority To DHS Nominee Mayorkas, To Ensure WNY Security & Commerce Issues Are Addressed ASAP By Incoming Administration
Schumer To DHS Nominee: Congestion At The Norther Border Must Be Resolved To Secure Western New York’s Future
Continuing his efforts to ensure the security and prosperity of Western New York, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer yesterday, in a virtual meeting with President-Elect Biden’s nominee for Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, pushed priorities for the state, including addressing congestion at Peace Bridge. Specifically, Schumer pushed DHS to provide a pre-clearance location for American citizens and federal government workers traveling to the U.S. from the Canadian side of the bridge. The senator explained to DHS Nominee Mayorkas that this issue in particular must be addressed ASAP by the incoming administration because it is imperative to ensuring the security of Upstate New York and bolstering Western New York’s economy, which was devastated this year by the COVID pandemic.
“Once we emerge from the pandemic, our cross-border economy is going to be the key to Western New York’s economic recovery. It can’t be stressed enough how important it is to keep our crossings open, safe and moving quickly,” said Senator Schumer. “Improving commercial and passenger travel across the Peace Bridge has been one of my highest priorities for Buffalo and Western New York, which is why yesterday I plugged pre-clearance to DHS Nominee Mayorkas. Fixing congestion at our Northern Border will enhance safety in Western New York and boost the regional economy. Implementing pre-clearance at the Peace Bridge is one of the key issues I will work on with the incoming administration.”
Schumer has been working for years with several administrations on securing a pre-clearance location for Americans citizens and federal workers on the Canadian side of the Peace Bridge. The senator said such a location would allow for faster and safer travel at the Bridge by moving the cargo prescreening process to the Canadian side of the border, where space is more readily available, reducing pressure on the U.S. Plaza where currently all screening takes place and alleviating delays and backups for passengers and commercial traffic alike. The Western New York economy, state tourism industries, Amtrak operations in the North Country and Niagara Falls, and air cargo operations across New York would benefit greatly from increased ease in border traffic. Schumer also said the alleviated pressure on customs staff would also improve security in the region.
The senator has also pushed for sufficient staffing at Peace Bridge since 2016, when summer traffic at the Northern Border got out of control because of a lack of available border agents. In May 2019, the senator called on the CBP to maintain a minimum staffing level of 3,600 customs officers on the U.S.-Canada border, in accordance with the “Northern Border Strategy” issued by DHS in 2017. Following this, Schumer fought to pass a provision in the Emergency Border Supplemental Appropriations for Humanitarian Assistance and Security at the Southern Border Act of 2019, 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 had since been transferred to southern ports of entry. On August 8, days after its due date, Schumer wrote to DHS calling on the agency to release its overdue report immediately. And in September 2019 Schumer revealed a plan to set minimum staffing requirements at the Northern Border when DHS executed a plan to transfer as many as 300 Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers from the Northern Border to the Southern Border, jeopardizing cross-border trade and creating avoidable security vulnerabilities.