Higgins Requests Meeting with Customs and Border Protection Commissioner
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27), a newly appointed member of the House Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs Committees, sent a letter to U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Bersin requesting a meeting to discuss how the two can work collaboratively to see the Peace Bridge expansion project proceed expeditiously.
“With jobs and security topping the list of national priorities, our federal government can and should lead on what promises to be a bridge to economic growth and greater national security,” said Congressman Higgins, whose Western New York District includes the Peace Bridge.
Congressman Higgins pointed out the recent Government Accounting Office report citing the need for additional security attention at the Northern Border along with the President’s State of the Union Address call calling for a focus on infrastructure investment, jobs and exports add to the urgency which should be propelling the Peace Bridge project.
Higgins added, “We appreciate CBP’s ongoing efforts and support for the planning process of the Peace Bridge Expansion Project plan. In order to get this ongoing process to the finish line, though, CBP and the other agencies involved will need place all hands on deck.”
On Wednesday, February 9 Congressman Higgins will participate in a Homeland Security Committee hearing featuring Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano as an invited witness.
Below is a copy of Congressman Higgins’ letter to the CBP Commissioner
The Honorable Alan Bersin
Customs and Border Protection
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20229
Re: Peace Bridge Expansion Project
Dear Commissioner Bersin,
When we spoke regarding the Peace Bridge Expansion Project in 2010, we agreed to work collaboratively to assure that the planning process on the Peace Bridge project proceeds at the most expeditious rate possible. I write you today seeking a renewal of that commitment, and I respectfully request the opportunity to meet with you shortly to discuss the importance of the project to the future of the community I represent in Buffalo and Western New York. This request has added urgency given the renewed focus President Obama has placed on infrastructure and security at our Northern Border.
As you know, the Peace Bridge Land Port of Entry is one of the busiest at the Northern Border. It is also woefully inadequate to meet the security challenges of the 21st century. Your agency has cited these inadequacies in the past, including lack of plaza exit controls to manage emergent fugitive scenarios, insufficient space for the inspection of busses and commercial trucks, the lack of animal inspection facilities, the complete lack of an outbound inspection facility, inadequate secondary inspection facilities, and lack of “Non-Intrusive Inspection” staging areas. The proposed plaza plan, long deliberated upon between your agency and project sponsors, addresses these glaring weaknesses.
Along with the necessity of a modern Land Port of Entry at the Peace Bridge to secure our border, the Expansion Project is a long overdue and critical enhancement to a vital economic asset. More than $30 billion in trade moves across the Peace Bridge every year, and that trade is linked to $227.4 billion in economic generation at companies that do business in the United States, supporting 1 million jobs.
Businesses in Western New York and around the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic benefit from this trade linkage – Southern Ontario has one of the most vibrant and rapidly growing economies in North America. The Expansion Project will ensure more predictable access for business and provide enhanced opportunities for trade. The project will also result in new and increased access for Western New York institutions to Canadian customers. Small businesses, retailers, cultural institutions, professional sports franchises, colleges, and our international airport are among the many entities that all stand to directly benefit from the Peace Bridge Expansion Project.
I appreciate your efforts to ensure that our country’s Northern Border is safe, secure, and provides ease of access for citizens and business. I look forward to working with you on moving this project forward.
Member of Congress