Cantwell in town to talk border resources
Senator Maria Cantwell was in Blaine last week to see how her office can bring additional resources to tighten up local borders.
“It’s important to talk to the people on the ground to find out what resources are needed to protect our borders,” Cantwell said following her December 15 visit. “These guys who protect our borders every day are the guys who know best.”
Cantwell said she will lobby federal agencies to insure some of the riches from the recently adopted national intelligence bill, signed into law by President Bush on December 17, make it to Blaine. The bill proposes to add 2,000 additional border patrol agents nationally every year for five years, effectively doubling the size of that force. It earmarks 20 percent of those additional agents for the northern border. There are also provisions for additional Customs and Border Protection inspectors and investigators.
Border patrol representative Joe Giuliano said the senator’s help was welcomed in his agency’s efforts to expand their activities, specifically with regard to border patrol presence on the water and closer collaboration with other federal agencies. “We did some studies that found a minimum of 204 agents are needed to do the fundamentals in providing the level of security we feel confident is all encompassing,” he said. Today the Blaine sector is authorized for149 agents and has 139 on the job.
The key, Giuliano said, was to make sure some of the 2,000 new agents on the northern border wind up in Blaine. “It will be a nationwide strategic decision,” he said.
While in Blaine Cantwell also met with local law enforcement including police chief Mike Haslip to get a better idea what additional resources they needed due to border-related crime.
“Additional border patrol agents in our area will allow a more efficient and effective patrolling of our border,” Haslip said. “This benefits both our local residents, the region, and the country as a whole.” Haslip said he hoped lawmakers would continue to promote a high level of cooperation between federal and local law enforcement in regards to homeland security.