Dunkirk, NY- Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27), in partnership with Dunkirk Mayor Richard L. Frey, is proud to announce the arrival of the new Customs and Border Protection Videophone now located at the Dunkirk Pier. On Wednesday July 5th, at the Dunkirk City Pier, Congressman Higgins and Mayor Frey unveiled the videophone to the public and demonstrated how to operate it.
“The videophone is an important investment for the Dunkirk Harbor and the greater Dunkirk area. This videophone will serve to provide greater access to this beautiful city and its harbor by way of the Dunkirk City Pier. Now, not only can U.S. vessels explore this area, but International vessels will have the opportunity to experience what the Dunkirk and its waterfront have to offer,” stated Congressman Higgins.
Dunkirk Mayor Richard Frey also commented on the great accomplishment. “On behalf of the City of Dunkirk, I would like to thank Congressman Higgins for his continued support of the City. He demonstrates true leadership and resilience in fighting for what is best for our area,” stated Frey. “Dunkirk has been trying to get a videophone for over 20 years and now thanks to Congressman Higgins, it is finally here. This will be a big boost not only for the harbor front area but the entire City of Dunkirk.”
The videophone is located on the northwest wall of the Boat House facing the Pier, and is now available for the incoming boaters to use. In order to work the Videophone the caller must pick up the phone, and press the button labeled with the US flag. At that point a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer will answer the call and begin connecting the user to the video operating device. This camera like device will allow the user to see the CBP Officer and the officer to see the user. The CBP Officer will then begin to walk the person through a series of steps which will eventually allow them to legally enter into the U.S. via our beautiful Dunkirk Harbor.
Boaters must be aware that there are specific information and documents which must be provided for the CBP Officer. The specific information and documents will include providing proof of name, date of birth & citizenship of master. You must also provide name of boat and/or boat registration number, U.S. decal number (if 30 feet or longer), along with name, date of birth & citizenship of all passengers and finally home port and current location. Once this process is complete the boaters will be able to enter into Dunkirk and explore the many attractions that the area has to offer.
“The Customs and Border Protection Videophone is a much needed device in the Dunkirk Harbor,” stated Maclain Nichols, Dunkirk Director of Development. “Prior to the phone going up, boaters entering from Canada had to check in at one of the other 15 videophone stations of which the closest one was located at Erie Basin Marina in Buffalo.”
“Due to Federal and State Border Protection Laws, once a vessel arrives, or first comes to rest in U.S. waters whether it is with an anchor or at a dock, it is mandatory for the vessel to receive clearance from the U.S. Customs Department,” explained Nichols.
When asked if the Videophone is user friendly, Dunkirk Area Harbor Commission (DAHC) Chairman Kurt Warmbrodt stated “it’s pretty easy to use, all you have to do is pick up the phone, and press the button labeled USA. At that point a customs inspector will answer as well as show up on the video screen and direct you through the step by step directions. On behalf of the DAHC we would like to thank Congressman Higgins and Mayor Frey for all of their help in securing this for Dunkirk.”
The new videophone in Dunkirk is formally identified as an Outlying Area Reporting Station (OARS) and is administered by the United States Department of Homeland Security U.S. Customs and Border Protection division.