DETROIT, MI – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, was joined by Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Chris Magnus for a firsthand look at the important role that CBP plays in facilitating secure and efficient trade and travel at ports of entry at Michigan’s Northern Border. Peters and Magnus visited the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron and the construction site of the Gordie Howe International Bridge in Detroit to highlight the economic importance of Michigan’s international border crossings and the critical role CBP plays in ensuring that people and goods moving across our border are safe, secure and able to move efficiently. The Detroit-Windsor corridor is our Northern Border’s busiest port of entry, while Port Huron is the third busiest. Peters and Magnus concluded their visit by meeting with leaders of Michigan’s Arab and Muslim American communities to discuss traveler experience and civil rights issues, including the travel screening process.
“I was pleased to host fellow Michigander, Commissioner Magnus today so he could see firsthand the important role that Michigan’s ports of entry – which are some of the busiest in the nation – play in our nation’s economic and national security. During our visits to the Blue Water Bridge and the Gordie Howe International Bridge construction site, I underscored the need to ensure customs plazas in Michigan have sufficient personnel and resources – including screening equipment – to ensure dedicated, frontline CBP Officers can securely and efficiently manage the flow of international trade and travel. These resources will also allow CBP to better seize harmful illicit drugs before they reach our communities,” said Senator Peters. “I’m grateful to Commissioner Magnus for taking the time to come to our state to visit our busy ports and meet with leaders of our vibrant Arab and Muslim American communities to discuss how CBP can better safeguard travelers’ civil rights, civil liberties, and privacy protections.”
“It was a pleasure to join Senator Peters today during our tours and to discuss the critical role that Michigan plays in our country’s free and fair trade, economic prosperity and national security,” said Chris Magnus, Commissioner U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “CBP’s successes in facilitating free and lawful trade are made possible by the support of our elected leaders and by the continued partnerships at the local, state, and federal level.”
During the visit, Peters and Magnus first visited the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron to discuss the urgent need to use available land to expand the customs plaza to ensure secure and efficient flow of traffic across the bridge. Peters has long worked with state and federal partners to modernize this port of entry. During the visit, Magnus was able see firsthand how expanding the customs plaza will increase screening capacity at the port and help alleviate some of the congestion on the bridge and surrounding highways. Peters and Magnus then visited the construction site of the Gordie Howe International Bridge to discuss the economic benefits of the second span between Detroit and Windsor and the accompanying customs plaza, as well as the importance of ensuring the bridge receives adequate federal resources and CBP personnel once complete. Once operational, the Gordie Howe International Bridge will allow Michigan to move an increased number of goods between Detroit and Windsor and will help bolster the state’s status as a hub for international commerce.
During both visits, Peters highlighted his ongoing efforts to ensure CBP has the personnel and equipment needed to secure ports of entry on the Northern Border and maintain Michigan’s status as a hub for international commerce. Peters has long worked to secure all of our nation’s borders and promote secure and efficient travel and trade at ports of entry. Michigan is home to some of the nation’s busiest ports of entry, and the state’s economy heavily depends on secure and efficient international trade and travel. As a part of the government funding legislation that was signed into law earlier this year, Peters helped secure $87 million for non-intrusive inspection systems, which have enabled CBP Officers to ensure safe and secure travel and trade across our borders. He 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. In 2019, Peters secured the first federal funding for the Gordie Howe International Bridge – $15 million for inspection and screening systems. Peters’ bipartisan bill to address the shortage of agricultural inspectors who protect the nation’s food supply and agricultural industry at the border was signed into law last Congress. Peters has also introduced bipartisan legislation to require CBP to hire no less than 600 additional officers a year until the agency’s staffing needs are met.
Finally, Peters and Magnus also met with leaders of Michigan’s Arab and Muslim American communities in Dearborn to discuss ongoing concerns related to travel screening processes conducted by CBP, as well as other important civil rights issues. Peters also had a chance to welcome CBP’s Senior Community Relations Manager to Michigan – a position which was recently created as a result of an earlier meeting that Peters hosted in Metro Detroit with Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro N. Mayorkas.