Senate Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Susan Collins today urged U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to consider establishing a seasonal port of entry at the U.S./Canadian border along Russell Road in Fort Fairfield, Maine. This is in response to CBP’s announcement that it intended to close Russell Road, a move that could harm Fort Fairfield’s local economy and impede access to the Aroostook Valley Country Club and local residences.
“While it is important that we continue our efforts to strengthen our borders and protect ourselves against the threat of terrorism, we must seek to do so in a way that does not unnecessarily hinder the travel of people who regularly cross the border and who pose no threat to national security,” said Senator Collins. “Opening a seasonal port of entry at Russell Road properly balances security concerns with the practical realities in Fort Fairfield.”
Senator Collins has worked closely with the Town of Fort Fairfield, which has expressed concerns over CBP’s proposed closing of Russell Road. In response, the Senator sent a letter to CBP Commissioner W. Ralph Basham requesting CBP examine establishing a seasonal port of entry and expressing disappointment at the lack of action on the agency’s part in addressing the effect on local residents.
The text of the letter is provided below:
June 23, 2008
Commissioner W. Ralph Basham
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
1300 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20229
Dear Commissioner Basham:
I am writing in response to the disappointing announcement by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that it intends to close Russell Road connecting the Aroostook Valley Country Club (AVCC) and several nearby residences in Fort Fairfield, Maine to Canada. In a letter that I sent to you in April, I asked that CBP meet with local business and community leaders and develop a plan to accommodate community concerns. It does not appear, however, that CBP has identified a solution that addresses security concerns and accommodates local interests in providing access to the golf course and local residences. Enclosed is a letter from the Town of Fort Fairfield expressing the concerns of many of its citizens.
Canada operates a seasonal port of entry on this road. The U.S. operated a port of entry on the road, which closed during the 1950s. I respectfully request that you examine the possibility of CBP establishing a seasonal port of entry at the border along Russell Road between April and November while the AVCC is operational. This solution would serve the security interest of identifying individuals entering the U.S. from Canada and also avoid harming the property values and economy of the area, including the AVCC whose survival would be jeopardized by closing access from Canada.
I look forward to your response to my letter and appreciate your assistance.
Susan M. Collins