Congressman Bill Owens testified before the House Budget Committee Monday morning, stressing the importance of having the necessary resources to implement the border agreement reached between President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The plan, Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness, calls for joint U.S.-Canadian working groups to find solutions on a number of security and economic growth initiatives along the Canadian border.
“The Budget Committee can help ensure that we appropriately implement this agreement and create quality jobs here at home,” said Congressman Owens. “New York’s 23rd Congressional District has 13 ports of entry and border crossings that support more than 19,000 jobs in the region and employ more than 500,000 people statewide. If this plan is adequately supported by Congress, we will see both security and economic development improve not only in New York, but throughout the nation.”
Major initiatives in the Beyond the Border action plan that will bolster security and economic growth efforts include:
- The Canadian Border Services Agency will conduct full pre-clearance of goods and travelers at Massena. Negotiations are expected to be completed by December 2012.
- A joint plan for investing in modern infrastructure and technology at the busiest ports of entry, which is essential to pursuing creative and effective solutions to manage the flow of cross-border traffic. Negotiations are expected to be completed by June 30, 2012.
- A commitment to utilize technology and cyber security for small border crossings so that assets can be redeployed to larger crossings to facilitate the movement of people and goods. Negotiations are expected to be completed by June 30, 2012.
- Pilot programs permitting expedited clearance for certain Canadian food processors by July 2012 and Amtrak passengers by December 2012.
- A joint U.S.-Canada plan to measure and compare wait times and traffic at the border by the end of March 2012.
- Working towards an integrated U.S.-Canada entry-exit system for people and goods so that entry into one country can serve to verify exit from the other country. Current joint traveler and trade programs that will be enhanced by the Beyond the Border Initiative include:
- Harmonizing the U.S. Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program and the Canadian Partners in Protection (PIP) program by December 2013, and an expansion of the FAST program by mid-2012.
- Expanding a TSA risk-based screening program so that Canadian NEXUS card holders can move more quickly through TSA screening locations within two years.
- Expanding NEXUS or express lane capacity at border crossings, in particular the St. Bernard de Lacolle Canadian border crossing in Quebec by June 2013.