(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) announced unanimous passage of language in the Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary (CJSJ) Conference Report, directing the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to increase protection and staff at the Northern Border. This language comes in response to border staff levels that have not kept pace with growing commercial traffic and increased safety threats at the Northern Border. The Report will now go to both houses of Congress for final passage.
"I am pleased that my directive for increased staff at the Northern Border has been included in the CJSJ Conference Report," Murray said. "The September 11th attacks reinforced the need for a stronger level of INS commitment to the Northern Border."
The language included in the CJSJ Report would require that at least 25 percent of new Border Patrol agents and inspection staff be assigned to the Northern Border. Under current budget plans, the INS will hire an additional 570 Border Patrol agents in fiscal years 2002 and 2003. The language Senator Murray included in the CJSJ Bill would ensure that at least 142 of those new agents and transferred agents are assigned to the Northern Border.
Murray's directive would overturn a long-standing INS policy that calls for securing the Southern Border before securing the Northern Border. The strategy is outlined in the INS's "Border Patrol Strategic Plan 1994 and Beyond."
"The INS policy of achieving control of the Southwest Border before turning to the Northern Border is both unrealistic and shortsighted. The December 1999 arrest of Ahmed Ressam, who was trying to cross into the state of Washington from Canada with 100 pounds of bomb making supplies and the recent terrorist attacks are frightening examples of our security concerns at the Northern Border."
The Northern Border also lacks the inspection staff to handle increased traffic. As a result, traffic is often lined up for miles at many Washington state/Canadian border crossings.