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Miller Tours Selfridge Air National Guard Base

by Candice Miller on February 4, 2011

Thursday, February 3, 2011
By Chad Selweski
Macomb Daily Staff Writer
After touring the newest facilities at Selfridge Air National Guard Base this morning, U.S. Rep. Candice Miller said U.S. border officials have significantly stepped up their operations and may have created a high-tech system that will serve as a model for much of the 4,000-mile border with Canada.

Miller toured the new high-tech intelligence facility at the Harrison Township base, which is a Department of Homeland Security project launched in 2009 to create an “Operational Integration Center.” That center is operated by Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, and works with the FBI and local law enforcement to compile information about drug smuggling and human trafficking across the border.

In addition, the center keeps close tabs on suspects by monitoring 11 surveillance cameras that have been erected on towers and buildings along the St. Clair River from Gull Island to Port Huron.

“At the CBP, they have really ratcheted up their operations in the last several years,” said the Harrison Township Republican, referring to greater technology, aircraft, watercraft and manpower.

While the Selfridge operations may provide promise, a federal report released earlier this week found that the U.S.-Canadian border security system is riddled with holes and plagued by a lack of coordination among various law enforcement agencies.

The General Accountability Office concluded that in 2010 only 32 miles of the overall northern border – or less than 1 percent — “had reached an acceptable level of security.” That level means that all illegal border crossings were detected and an arrest was made.

In addition, the GAO found that the Border Patrol was aware of all illegal crossings on just 25 percent of the border.

“What they’re doing with the CBP at Selfridge is what the GAO report said we should be doing. So, we’re sort of ahead of the curve in the Detroit sector,” Miller said.

Miller, chair of the House Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, said she will hold a hearing on Capitol Hill in about two weeks to explore CBP’s metrics of success and their definition of a border area that is satisfactorily secure.

The congresswoman also hopes to bring some of her colleagues to her district so they can observe how close the Canadian coastline is along the St. Clair River and how busy the truck traffic is on the Bluewater Bridge in Port Huron.

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