Candice Miller for Congress, Michigan

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Miller bill seeks ‘100 percent’ secure U.S. borders by 2016

by Candice Miller on April 4, 2011

March 31, 2011
Miller bill seeks ‘100 percent’ secure U.S. borders by 2016
NATHAN HURST
Detroit News Washington Bureau
http://detnews.com/article/20110331/POLITICS02/103310388
Washington— Rep. Candice Miller is expected to introduce a bill today ordering the Department of Homeland Security to devise a five-year plan to secure 100 percent of the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada.
 
A draft copy of the bill, the Secure Border Act of 2011, was obtained Wednesday by The Detroit News. It would require DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and her agency, within 180 days of its passage, to identify how to bring the northern and southern borders under full “operational control” — meaning authorities have clear ways of patrolling and controlling passage over a border — within five years.
 
Achieving full operational control of the borders would likely cost hundreds of millions of dollars or more, if current projections are any indication.
 
Among the potential solutions are increased levels of fencing and boosted patrols on the southern border, while the U.S.-Canada border would be a prime candidate for a beefed-up Coast Guard presence in the Great Lakes, watch towers like those deployed along the St. Clair River and unmanned aerial drones in use in states like Arizona.
 
Both borders are far below that 100 percent goal. Forty-four percent of the U.S.-Mexican border is estimated to be under operational control; the U.S.-Canadian border is less than 2 percent controlled..
 
The Detroit sector of the border — which encompasses more than 500 miles, most of it in Lakes Superior, Huron, St. Clair and Erie — has about 25 percent of its length under operational control. In rural sections of the U.S.-Canadian border, crossers are merely asked to tell authorities by telephone that they’ve entered the United States.
 
Miller, who chairs the Subcommittee on Maritime and Border Security, has repeatedly called for greater attention to problems along the U.S. border with Canada. In a subcommittee hearing earlier this month, experts testified that while the rash of drug cartel-related violence along the Mexican border has turned security attention southward in recent years, the U.S. border with Canada has many concerns as well.
 
While precise numbers aren’t public, Homeland Security officials said at the same hearing that four to five times as many would-be visitors to the United States are sent back into Canada each year because they’re on terrorist watch and travel exclusion lists.
 
Many of those incidents occur at Michigan’s four border crossings into Ontario, representing the busiest commercial corridor between the two countries.
 
In a letter to fellow lawmakers seeking their support, Miller, R-Harrison Township, said the bill would be instrumental in putting together a comprehensive border security plan that doesn’t rely on piecemeal funding.
 
“Since 9/11, Congress has spent billions of dollars to secure the border, but the Department of Homeland Security has never put forth a comprehensive plan to gain and maintain operational control of the border,” Miller wrote. “Instead of spending money on an ad hoc basis, DHS should come up with a comprehensive and coherent plan to achieve operational control of both borders.”

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