WASHINGTON — Wednesday, the Senate passed S. 1808, the Northern Border Security Review Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.). The bill would require the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to conduct a comprehensive examination of the current resources and personnel levels, and to fully evaluate security threats and challenges at the border.
“My committee’s oversight has shown that the northern border is far from secure, and this insecurity poses various risks to America,” said Johnson, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “This bill requires the Department of Homeland Security to assess the threats of terrorism and criminal activity across our northern border, including in the Great Lakes region. I’m proud of the work we’ve done on a bipartisan basis to get this bill through the Senate, and I urge the House to quickly take up and pass this legislation.”
“Keeping our country safe means making sure all of our nation’s borders – both north and south – are adequately protected to meet modern day challenges,” said Heitkamp, a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “When former Deputy Secretary Mayorkas and I visited Pembina last year and in my visit to the Portal Point of Entry earlier this month, I heard from federal, state, and local officials about the challenges they face every day. Taking their concerns to heart, our bipartisan bill aims to address issues such as recruiting and retaining border patrol agents and accessing resources in remote areas. This legislation will help our border security and law enforcement officials do what they do best – keep our communities safe. It’s great news for each of those officers and for every North Dakotan that our bill passed unanimously in the U.S. Senate.”
“Securing our borders and keeping New Hampshire safe is one of my top priorities, and I am very pleased that this important legislation passed the Senate unanimously,” said Ayotte, a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “Our bill will ensure that we have a full understanding of the northern border’s needs, strengths, and vulnerabilities so that we can protect our country from current or potential criminal or terror threats. New Hampshire law enforcement officials, particularly those serving Coos County, are critical to maintaining the security of our border with Canada and we must ensure that federal authorities are working collaboratively with them to identify, understand, and confront threats.”
The bill had four cosponsors:
Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Angus King (I-Maine).
Approximately 300,000 people and $910 million in trade cross the northern border every day, representing the largest bilateral flow of goods and people in the world. This bill from Johnson, Heitkamp and Ayotte would require a comprehensive examination of how to strengthen American security at the northern border by looking into issues with:
- Recruiting and retaining border security officials to cover the northern border, including at more remote areas of the border.
- Determining which tools border security officials need to effectively combat drug and human trafficking at the northern border.
- Identifying technology that could expand the reach of border agents.
- Finding vulnerabilities in cooperation between Canadian, state, county, local, and tribal law enforcement.
The United States and Canada conducted a joint border and threat risk assessment in 2011. Subsequently, the DHS published its Northern Border Strategy in 2012. Given the constant changes along the northern border, it is critical that the United States update its threat assessment so it can effectively respond to today’s challenges.