Letter Comes After Department Announced Plans to Divert CBP Officers from Northern Border to Southern Border
Congressmembers Brian Higgins (D-NY-26) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21), who serve as Co-Chairs of the Congressional Northern Border Caucus, are leading a push to ensure U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) maintain strong staffing levels at airports and Ports of Entry between the United States and Canada. The move comes following a recent announcement by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of plans to transfer CBP officers stationed along the northern border and U.S. airports to posts at the southern border.
In a bipartisan letter led by Reps.Higgins and Stefanik and signed by 11 additional members of the Northern Border Caucus, the Congressmembers write in part, “CBP’s consistent inability to attain its statutorily established minimum staffing levels and the reduction of service hours at several land ports of entry along the northern border, coupled with further reduction of staffing due to this deployment will cause excessive delays at crossings, expose the nation to security risks, and highlight key vulnerabilities.”
The letter, signed by Reps. Brian Higgins, Elise Stefanik, Kelly Armstrong (R-ND-at large), Chris Collins (R-NY-27), Debbie Dingell (D-MI-12), Dan Kildee (D-MI-5), Derek Kilmer (D-WA-6), Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH-2), John Moolenaar (R-MI-4), Joseph Morelle (D-NY-25), Chris Pappas (D-NH-1), Collin Peterson (D-MN-7), and Elissa Slotkin (D-MI-8), asks Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan to “immediately rescind the transfer of the Customs and Border Protection officers to the southern border.”
Leaders are concerned that the timing of the CBP transfers is particularly bad as border crossing data shows Northern Border crossings see steep increases over the summer months. They point out in their letter, “We are approaching the heaviest travel months of the year and ports of entry will be facing increased volume. The decision to deploy northern border CBP officers to the southern border makes it increasingly more difficult for the agency to meet their core mission requirements at the border which include effectively securing U.S. points of entry and safeguarding and streamlining lawful trade and travel.”
The Northern Border constitutes the longest land boundary between two countries in the world. At 5,525 miles, approximately 400,000 people and over $1.6 billion in goods cross the border daily through more than 120 ports of entry.