Schumer On Hutchinson Visit: Now Is The Time For Shared Border Management At The Peace Bridge
Senator says it is a huge win for Buffalo that top U.S. and Canadian officials have chosen the Peace Bridge as a pilot project for shared border initiatives along the entire Northern Border
US Senator Charles E. Schumer today welcomed Undersecretary of Border and Transportation Security Asa Hutchinson and Canadian National Security Advisor Rob Wright to Buffalo for a consultation session with local stakeholders on shared border management. Schumer was scheduled to attend the session in person, but a vote in the Senate on the National Intelligence Bill prevented him from making the trip.
"The fact that the US and Canadian governments have chosen Buffalo as a pilot project for the whole Northern Border is a huge win for Western New York," Schumer said. "It will help get the Peace Bridge project back on the right track and serve as a national model for how to move traffic and commerce while keeping our Northern Border secure."
Schumer submitted the following written statement to the consultation session:
Statement By U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer At Consultation Session On Shared Border Management, Buffalo, New York, December 8, 2004
First, thank you to Undersecretary Hutchinson and Canadian National Security Advisor Wright for coming to Buffalo to hear from the stakeholders in this very important initiative for Western New York and for the country, and for being strong advocates of creating a shared border management plan for the Northern Border. Also, thank you to Canadian Consulate General Roger Marsham, whose leadership on this issue has been invaluable.
As Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan recognized in their announcement in October, the Peace Bridge crossing is the right place for a pilot project in shared border management, and now is the time to implement it. About ten percent of the trade that passes between the U.S. and Canada moves across the Peace Bridge. With a bridge expansion project well underway, the need exists now for a better way to move commercial and passenger traffic more efficiently and make our border as secure as possible.
This border crossing is more than just a trade corridor. It lands directly in the middle of two communities the City of Buffalo and the Town of Fort Erie. The decisions we make about this border crossing directly affect the quality of life of the people who live here. Designing one kind of truck plaza over another could mean tearing down hundreds of peoples' homes on Buffalo's West Side, or it could mean making sure that diesel trucks and their harmful fumes don't sit idling on residential streets.
This border crossing is also vitally important from a security standpoint. The Niagara Power Project, the West Valley Nuclear Demonstration Project, the Niagara Air Base and Niagara Falls, one of the world's largest tourist destinations, all sit within a stone's throw of the border. The Lackawanna Six were captured just a few miles from the Peace Bridge, and the bridge is also a short, direct shot from Toronto, one of the trade capitols of the world. Therefore, there is no better place to design and implement a shared border management plan that can keep us secure and keep trade moving.
We have already taken small steps that show that the United States and Canada can cooperate to make this a reality. Soon, the Peace Bridge Authority will be moving its toll facilities to the Canadian side of the Peace Bridge. The Internal Revenue Service and Revenue Canada have also reached an agreement that citizens working on the other side of the border crossing won't be double taxed just because they have to cross the bridge to go to work at the border.
From a security standpoint, shared border management will allow U.S. and Canadian law enforcement agencies to work more closely together and further cooperation. The U.S. could identify and intercept potential threats before they reach the U.S. and a densely populated area, such as the City of Buffalo. It would also allow for the further implementation of improved technology, such as the FAST and NEXUS programs. I am very encouraged by the ongoing discussions between the U.S. and Canada to develop a preclearance model at the Peace Bridge. The U.S. Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights are closely aligned, and I am hopeful that we can find some common ground in allowing each country's customs and border agents to operate on the other's soil to improve overall security for both nations and speed the flow of commerce between them. I am looking forward to seeing the details of what a preclearance model would look like at the Peace Bridge, because I know how successful it has been in other contexts, such as with the airport model.
As we look at other crossings along the Northern Border, I also urge our governments to be flexible because what works best at one border crossing might not be best somewhere else. At the Peace Bridge, consensus is building around a crossing where most of the infrastructure is on the Canadian side. However, at another crossing, such as the Thousand Islands, it might be better to have most of the facilities on the U.S. side. Places like DetroitWindsor may prefer reverse inspections. This may not be a onesizefitsall idea, but the kind of binational cooperation that is working so well at this crossing will serve as a model for others along the Northern Border.
If we continue to work together, I am confident we will see a border crossing here that is efficient, safe and a national model for others to follow.
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