CPB Agent: “[T]he meager pool of resources that we have is becoming increasingly shallow…” More from Last Week’s Senate Homeland Security Committee Northern Border Field Hearing

Last week, Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) chaired a field Homeland Security Senate committee hearing in Havre, Montana focusing on Canada-U.S. border security and trade facilitation.

Covering topics from cross-border police apprehension, trade facilitation, and border patrol budget and policy issues, the hearing highlighted the continuing attention the Canada-U.S. border, even if it doesn’t attract front page headlines.

Get the hearing’s testimony here.

And check out David Murray’s article in the Great Plains Tribune that offers an excellent wrap-up.

From Murray’s Friday article:

However, at more than 5,500 miles in length, the United States’ northern border with Canada is nearly three times longer than its border with Mexico, and the need for personnel and equipment to keep this border safe is deserving of increased national attention as well.

“The problem that we have is that the meager pool of resources that we have is becoming increasingly shallow,” U.S. Border Patrol Agent Nathan Burr said. “The combination of the Border Patrol’s last congressionally mandated mass hire and the current budgetary crisis has left many areas drastically underfunded. Interagency cooperation at the federal level is completely functional but strained. Many agencies are more concerned with protecting their territory than actual mission accomplishment.”

Debbie Vandeberg, executive director of the Havre Chamber of Commerce, noted how an increasingly cumbersome permitting system at border crossings and inconsistent hours of operation at ports of entry is hampering local trade between cross-border communities. She said that since 2009, the number of permits required to transport agricultural equipment between the U.S. and Canada has risen from four to 14.

“Every time we in the U.S. ratchet up our permitting process the Canadian government responds by upping theirs,” Vandeberg said. “That’s a huge challenge. Basically the feeling is, when the doors aren’t open, how can we do business?”

Although neither Tester nor Daines offered any immediate solutions to the problems presented at the hearing, both promised they would take what they had learned back to Washington, D.C., with them.

“The bottom line is, if we can establish partnerships between elected officials, law enforcement agencies and local government, I think we can do the best job that can possibly be done,” Tester said.

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