U.S. Sen. Charles
Schumer (D-N.Y) said he has pressed Secretary of Homeland Security-designate
Michael Chertoff to assign more Customs
and Border Protection agents to the U.S.-Canada border, which he described as so understaffed that it "presents a
significant threat to our security from illicit drugs and terrorism."
The senator said following the meeting Thursday, Jan. 28, that Chertoff gave assurances that the Northern border would be a priority.
Schumer said compared to America's border with Mexico, the U.S.-Canada border receives "scant attention" with the
goal of 4,845 Customs and Border Protection officers short by 1,428 officers as of last May. Further, said Schumer, a hiring freeze may have caused further depletion of personnel.
The senator said he also discussed with Chertoff a recent decision by St. Lawrence Cruise Lines to drop Ogdensburg, N.Y., and other U.S. ports from its itineraries because of "too much interference from U.S. Customs and Border Security agent."
According to Schumer, Chertoff said that "he understood respecting the commercial interests of Northern Border communities was an important part of protecting and strengthening our border security."—Donald