Peters Urges Customs and Border Protection to Assign Customs Officer to Sawyer International Airport

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters, Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is pressing U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to assign a customs officer to Sawyer International Airport in Marquette County. In a letter to CBP, Peters raised concerns about the economic consequences for businesses and communities across the Upper Peninsula that seek to further engage in international trade and travel.

“The lack of CBP presence to process international traffic limits opportunity for the airport’s business tenants and airline service operators. Some tenants have missed out on business opportunities due to the inability to receive international flights,” Senator Peters wrote. “Members of the airport authority and regional Marquette community are committed to bringing economic opportunity to the area. The airport’s location, large footprint, and ability to support nearly any size aircraft make it an ideal location for regional business and an important part of the regional economy. In order to fully realize the airport’s potential, they envision a CBP presence that would support international traffic at the airport, in addition to the region’s sea ports.

Peters continued: “I urge you to consider CBP’s capacity to assign personnel to serve Sawyer International Airport and other regional ports, and continue to provide Marquette all consultation and technical assistance practicable to aid in their request.”

As Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Peters is working to secure the nation’s ports of entry and international borders. He introduced bipartisan legislation that was unanimously approved by the committee to address staffing shortages at ports of entry across the country. According to CBP data, there is a shortage of nearly 3,300 CBP officers nationwide. Peters also authored a bipartisan bill that advanced unanimously out of committee to hire more agricultural inspectors who protect the nation’s agricultural industry and food supply from harmful pests, invasive species and diseases. Last December, President Trump signed into law a bipartisan measure authored by Peters requiring federal officials to assess all ports of entry, including finding ways to reduce wait times for passengers and cargo at the Northern and Southern borders.

The text of the letter is copied below and available here:

  

August 2, 2019

Mark Morgan
Acting Commissioner
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20229

Dear Acting Commissioner Morgan:

I write regarding Marquette County’s efforts to bring U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel to Sawyer International Airport and other regional ports.

Sawyer International Airport has a significant role and history in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Constructed in 1944 as a municipal airport for Marquette County, the airport became K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base in 1955. Since that time, the base has been home to a number of units that expanded the base’s runway and logistical capacity. After the base’s closing in 1995, the county converted the airport for commercial use.

Although the closing of the base and loss of jobs had a significant impact on the local economy, Marquette County utilized their return to the base by expanding businesses and services in the community. The base is now home to a technological park, which helps connect business to air and rail service. Under legacy U.S. Customs operations, Sawyer had a part-time customs officer to process international traffic. However, when this officer retired, they were not replaced. The lack of CBP presence to process international traffic limits opportunity for the airport’s business tenants and airline service operators. Some tenants have missed out on business opportunities due to the inability to receive international flights.

Members of the airport authority and regional Marquette community are committed to bringing economic opportunity to the area. The airport’s location, large footprint, and ability to support nearly any size aircraft make it an ideal location for regional business and an important part of the regional economy. In order to fully realize the airport’s potential, they envision a CBP presence that would support international traffic at the airport, in addition to the region’s sea ports.

I appreciate the coordination CBP is undertaking to connect Sawyer International Airport with the resources and information they need to move forward. I urge you to consider CBP’s capacity to assign personnel to serve Sawyer International Airport and other regional ports, and continue to provide Marquette all consultation and technical assistance practicable to aid in their request.

Thank you for your continued work to protect our nation’s land, air, and sea ports. I look forward to your response.


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