(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) has teamed up with a bipartisan group of Senators to introduce legislation that would strengthen security at America's Northern and Southwest borders. The Border Infrastructure and Technology Modernization Act, sponsored by Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) and co-sponsored by Murray, would authorize $925 million over the next five years for infrastructure and security upgrades at the 197 border crossings along the nation's international borders with both Canada and Mexico.

"This legislation will help protect our citizens while facilitating commerce with our neighbors to the North and South," Murray said. "This bill is an important step in the fight to strengthen protection and resources at our borders."

The legislation authorizes increasing the number of Customs inspectors and staff in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Bureau of Customs and Border Protection by 1,000 full-time employees over the next 5 years. The bill would also authorize the addition of 500 agents in the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement over the same period. It also supports ongoing DHS border personnel hiring and training.

The bill dedicates $500 million over the next five years to address the backlog of infrastructure upgrades at border crossings and authorizes $100 million a year for new border infrastructure and technology upgrades. In June 2000, the General Services Administration (GSA) and Customs completed the Ports of Entry Infrastructure Assessment Study, identifying $784 million in needed facility improvements along the Northern and Southwestern borders.

"This bill will have a direct and much needed impact on Washington state," Murray said. "Increased funding and technology will mean increased safety and shorter waits along our Northern Border. I have worked for 10 years to increase staffing, funding and resources for the Northern Border and I am proud that my Senate colleagues are joining in the fight."

The Northern Border spans 4,000 miles, 1500 miles of which is a maritime border, the largest non-militarized border in the world.

Today's bill compliments the Maritime Transportation Security Act, which Senator Murray helped pass through Congress last year. The Maritime Transportation Security Act authorizes matching grants for the next five years to help beef up port security.