Murray Announces Senate Passage of $28.1 Million for Northern Border Customs Agents in 2002 Treasury/Postal Conference Report

Nov 02 2001

Increased funds to help protect citizens, facilitate law enforcement now goes to President Bush

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today announced that the fiscal year 2002 Treasury/Postal Conference Report, which includes $28.1 million to increase the number of Customs agents at the Northern Border, passed the Senate by a vote of 83-15. The Conference report will now go to President Bush to be signed into law.

"In light of the recent terrorist attacks, I am pleased that these added funds will mean an increase in safety for citizens in Washington State and across our nation," Senator Murray said. "I have worked for 9 years to increase staffing and resources for the Northern Border and I am proud to announce this new funding."

The Northern Border spans 4,000 miles, 1500 miles of which is a maritime border, the largest non-militarized border in the world. The U.S. Customs Service maintains 125 Northern Border crossings with 83 Ports of Entry (P.O.E.) and 42 stations, including 5 seasonal crossings. There are also 300 unofficial crossings along the Northern Border, leaving the door open for possible illegal activity.

The December 1999 arrest of Ahmed Ressam, who was trying to cross into Washington State from Canada with 100 pounds of bomb making supplies, is just one example of security concerns at the Northern Border. Ressam has since admitted that his intent was to bomb the Los Angeles Airport and believed it to be easier to enter the U.S. via the Northern rather than Southwest Border.

"I am proud that the Senate today stood up for the safety of citizens in the Northwest and across the nation by providing $28.1 million for added Customs staff at the Northern Border," Murray said. "This funding will protect our citizens while facilitating commerce with our largest trade partner, Canada. While there is much more that remains to be done, this is an important victory in the fight to strengthen protection and enforcement at the Northern Border."