As the Department of Homeland Security plans to transfer Customs and Border Protection officers from U.S.-Canadian crossings to the southern border, two New York members of Congress who chair the Northern Border Caucus hope the agency reconsiders.
U.S. Reps. Brian Higgins and Elise Stefanik co-authored a letter urging the department to maintain staffing levels at airports and ports of entry along the U.S.-Canadian border. The co-chairs noted that the Customs and Border Protection consistently fails to meet minimum staffing levels at the northern border.
If the officers are moved to the southern border, Higgins, D-Buffalo, and Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, warn that it will lead to excessive delays at U.S.-Canadian crossings and expose the U.S. to security risks.
"The abrupt transfer of needed personnel on the northern border will have economic and security implications on the facilitation of U.S.-Canada cross border trade and travel," members of the Northern Border Caucus wrote. The letter was signed by 11 other members of the caucus, including U.S. Reps. Chris Collins and Joe Morelle from New York.
One concern for the caucus is the timing of the transfers. There are increased number of border crossings during the summer months. There were nearly 11 million border crossings in August 2018. There were over 10 million in July 2018.
Roughly 400,000 people and more than $1.6 billion in goods cross the U.S.-Canadian border daily, according to the caucus.
"We are approaching the heaviest travel months of the year and ports of entry will be facing increased volume," the members wrote. "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."
Cross-border activity is especially important for Higgins' and Stefanik's districts. Higgins represents a western New York district that borders Canada. Stefanik's northern New York district also borders Canada. There are companies and other entities in both districts that rely on trade with Canada.