News Releases

Senator Murray Calls for More Resources for the Northern Border

Oct 03 2001

Reiterates support for Congressional efforts to triple border patrol agents and INS staffers along the Northern Border, praises Canadian response to September 11th

(WASHINGTON, DC) –U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today called for increased staffing on the Northern Border and better cooperation with Canadian authorities at a Senate hearing on Northern Border Security. In response to her questioning, Murray was told that both the U.S. Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) have already moved staff to the Northern Border, and that additional agents are on the way.

Senator Murray is currently working on a Congressional anti-terrorism package, which would triple the number of border patrol agents along the Northern Border and triple the number of INS inspectors at each port of entry along the Northern Border. "It's clear to me that a substantial portion of new INS and Customs agents must be deployed along the Northern Border," Murray said.

For years, Murray had been advocating for increased staffing at the Northern Border. As a member of the Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary Subcommittee, this year Senator Murray helped craft a provision in the Appropriations bill to require at least 25 percent of all new Border Patrol agents and INS inspection staff to go to the Northern Border, and to boost Customs staffing levels by $25 million. Murray received assurances from both Robert Bonner, Commissioner of the U.S. Customs Service and James Ziglar, Commissioner of the INS, that both agencies are actively working to increase the numbers of agents and inspection staff along the Northern Border.

Murray observed that there are only 300 Border Patrol Agents to cover the 4,000 mile Northern Border while 8,000 agents patrol the 2,000 mile Southwest Border, yet according to the Inspector General's report, Northern Border agents were fourteen times more likely to encounter aliens involved with smuggling weapons, and nine times more likely to encounter aliens smuggling drugs than along the Southwest Border.

"The arrest of Ahmed Ressam in December of 1999, with 100 pounds of bomb-making supplies, and the fact that some of the September 11th terrorists came in through Canada are frightening examples of our need to improve security along the Northern Border," said Murray.

Murray also praised Canada's response to the September 11th attacks, in particular, the country's immediate accommodation of hundreds of flights and thousands of Americans.

"Canada has been there for America and American citizens from the moment the terrorists attacked. We must continue to work with Canadian authorities and the Canadian people to confront the challenges ahead."

Murray received assurances from both Bonner and Ziglar that the Customs Service and INS are actively working with Canadian authorities to share intelligence and information to help prevent other terrorists from entering the U.S. through Canada.