Murray Secures $25 Million for Customs Agents at the Northern Border

Sep 19 2001

Appropriations bill provides increased funds to protect citizens, facilitate law enforcement

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today secured $25 million to increase the number of Customs agents at the Northern Border. The funding passed Congress as part of the Treasury/Postal Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2002. The bill passed unanimously.

"I am pleased to announce this increase in funding for Customs staff at the Northern Border," Murray said. "Unfortunately, staffing needs at the Northern Border have not kept pace with growing commercial traffic and increased safety threats. This has left the Northern Border vulnerable to illegal activity such as drug trafficking and terrorist activity. In light of last week's tragic terrorist attacks, I am pleased that these added funds will mean an increase in safety for citizens in Washington State and across our nation."

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. Recent evidence that terrorists are using the Northern Border to gain entry to the U.S. further underscores the need for increased funding to protect our borders from possible threats.

"I am proud that Congress today stood up for the safety of citizens in the Northwest and across the nation by providing $25 million for added Customs staff at the Northern Border. While there is much more that remains to be done, this is a small victory in the fight to strengthen protection and enforcement at the Northern Border."