News Releases

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Earlier today, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) joined with other Senators to urge the Bush Administration to fund legislation to triple the number of INS, border patrol and customs service inspectors at the Northern Border. The news conference took place at the Senate TV & Radio Gallery.

"The September 11th terrorist attacks revealed troubling holes in our investigative and intelligence powers. Later this morning, the Senate will consider a counter-terrorism bill, which will help close those holes, and provide law enforcement with additional tools to track down and prosecute terrorists. One of the most important provisions of the Counter-Terrorism legislation, is one that I have been working on for the last nine years -- to improve staffing and security at our Northern Border.

Too often, the Northern Border doesn't have the personnel to ensure our security, to enforce our immigration laws, and to allow commerce to flow efficiently between the U.S. and Canada.

The Northern Border is understaffed, and its personnel and assets have been frequently shifted to the Southern Border.

Even before September 11th, we've been working in Congress to address these problems.

In the Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary Appropriations subcommittee, we included language requiring that 25 percent of all new INS, Border Patrol, and inspection staff be deployed to the Northern Border.

In the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee -- working with Chairman Dorgan -- we earmarked $25 million dollars for new customs service staffing at the Northern border.

This counter-terrorism bill continues our progress. It authorizes tripling INS, border patrol and customs service inspectors at the Northern Border. It also authorizes $100 million for new technology. That's a good step forward. Now we need to make sure that the funds are there to hire these agents.

In my home state of Washington, we know just how important these agents are. In December of 1999, a man tried to enter the U.S. with 100 pounds of bomb-making materials. His goal was to blow up the Los Angeles Airport.

But it wasn't computers or hi-tech wizardry that caught Ahmed Ressam at the border - it was the vigilance and judgment of a well-trained customs agent.

Technology is important; but technology without more agents is simply inadequate.

We must put the resources where they are needed – on the Northern Border".