Peters Bipartisan Bills to Establish Center to Coordinate Northern Border Security & Address Staffing Shortages at Ports of Entry Advance to the Full Senate

Center Would be Collocated with DHS Components Currently Operating at Selfridge Air National Guard Base

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Bipartisan legislation authored by U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) that would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish a Northern Border Coordination Center to be collocated with existing DHS components that are currently operating out of Selfridge Air National Guard Base has advanced in the Senate. The Center would help improve coordination across DHS and with state, local, and Tribal governments to ensure DHS is able to fulfill its security mission along the Northern Border. The legislation followed a visit Peters hosted with DHS Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas to see DHS facilities and personnel supporting Northern Border security at Selfridge Air National Guard Base. The bill was approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where Peters serves as Chair. It now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

“The federal government must ensure the needs of the Northern Border are met and that DHS personnel have what they need to effectively secure the Northern Border,” said Senator Peters. “Selfridge Air National Guard Base already houses a number of DHS missions and this Center will work hand-in-hand with existing resources and capabilities, allowing the Department to further enhance efforts to ensure that the Northern Border’s security needs remain a priority.”

“For more than 100 years Selfridge has been a major installation in our nation’s defense,” said Mark Hackel, County Executive of Macomb County. “The Northern Border Coordination Center would seamlessly integrate into the dynamic operations happening at Selfridge each day. Senator Peters and our ever growing network of community champions recognize that this is a prime example of how we can modernize the bases capabilities to help keep us safe at home and abroad.”

“I applaud Senator Peters’ efforts to make Selfridge a hub for Northern Border Security and coordination. With the Border Patrol, CBP Air and Marine Wing and the Coast Guard there, and the partnership with the Air National Guard, this is truly a Total Force Concept,” said Candice Miller, Macomb County Public Works Commissioner and Honorary Commander of Selfridge Air National Guard Base. “Selfridge is perfectly positioned to carry out this mission. Securing our Northern Border is a critical element of our National Defense and Senator Peters’ advocacy is spot on.”

“We would like to thank Chairman Peters and Senator Collins for advocating for this important legislation to create a Northern Border Coordinating Center.  Our Northern Border is 5,500 miles long and includes some of the most difficult terrain you can imagine.  In total, we have less than 2,000 agents on our Northern Border and to say that they are stretched thin is an understatement. It is essential that Border Patrol, Office of Field Operations, Air Marine Operations, and other federal and state agencies coordinate their activities.  This legislation will require the Department of Homeland Security to do just that,” said Hector Garza, National Vice President and Legislative Chair of the National Border Patrol Council.       

The Northern Border Coordination Act will require DHS to establish the Northern Border Coordination Center, to be collocated with an existing U.S. Border Patrol sector headquarters, an Air and Marine Operations Branch, a U.S. Coast Guard air station, and other existing department activities. The Center would support implementation of the Northern Border Strategy, help to track Northern Border security metrics, and serve as a training location for DHS personnel and a testing ground for new border security technologies. The legislation also requires the Center to address the rising threat of illegal cross-border drone activity and requires Air and Marine Operations to maintain quick reaction capabilities at the Center to support the border security mission along the Northern Border.

Peters — who drilled at Selfridge while serving in the U.S. Navy Reserve — has been a champion for Selfridge. He recently participated in the groundbreaking for a new $28 million aircraft hangar made by possible by federal funding Peters secured through his work on the Senate Armed Services Committee. The 41,900 square-foot facility will transform two hangars into a new hangar equipped for fighter maintenance. The new facility will house maintenance on the main level and leadership/staff offices and classrooms on the second floor. Peters is pushing to secure a new fighter jet mission at Selfridge. In April, Peters convened abipartisan, bicameral meeting with Senator Debbie Stabenow (MI), the Michigan congressional delegation, and U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall to continue to push for a new, long-term fighter mission at Selfridge Air National Guard Base. This meeting came after the Senators led a bipartisan, bicameral letter to Secretary Kendall calling for a new fighter mission at Selfridge. Peters, Stabenow, and the delegation have also introduced companion resolutions in the Senate and House to highlight the contributions of Selfridge.

Peters and Stabenow previously secured significant commitments from the Department of Defense, including a pledge that Selfridge will continue to play a “critical and ongoing role for our national security.”

Selfridge supports approximately 5,000 military and civilian jobs and generates an estimated $850 million in economic impact statewide.

The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee also approved a separate bill authored by Peters to address staffing shortages of Customs and Border Protection officers. The Securing America’s Ports of Entry Act would support the critical operations at airports, seaports, and land ports of entry by requiring CBP to hire no less than 600 additional officers a year until the agency’s staffing needs are met. It would also authorize the hiring of additional support staff that enable CBP officers to fulfill their critical law enforcement duties and the secure facilitation of trade and travel through the nation’s ports of entry.

In fiscal year 2022, CBP officers processed more than 300 million travelers at ports of entry and the highest volume and value of trade seen. In addition to processing the people and goods that keep our economy moving, CBP officers play a critical role in stopping the flow of dangerous goods and contraband, like fentanyl from reaching our communities. This legislation will increase officers across CBP, supporting busy border crossings and other ports of entry and ensuring states like Michigan can remain hubs of international commerce.

Peters has long worked to prioritize the needs of the Northern Border at and between ports of entry. Peters previously helped secure $87 million for non-intrusive inspection systems, which have enabled U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers to prevent illegal activities, like the smuggling of drugs through our ports of entry. He also helped secure $3.8 billion as a part of the bipartisan infrastructure law to help CBP upgrade border facilities to more efficiently and securely process travelers and trade at land border crossings.