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Schumer Suggests Peace Bridge for Security Pilot

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, D-New York, says the Peace Bridge should be selected as a pilot site for border upgrades. Funding is included in the President Bush's proposed budget for Homeland Security.

Schumer is calling on Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge to select the Peace Bridge for the pilot project. He says the Peace Bridge would be the "ideal" site.

"We could really benefit if we were chosen for this pilot project," Schumer said. "The Peace Bridge could become a national model for border crossings -- secure, swift, quick and convenient. This pilot project could make it happen."

Schumer says if the Peace Bridge is selected, the program would need to include hiring more people to man every booth along the bridge, as well as computer upgrades. It would also include processing on just one side of border.

"If the US Customs facility was consolidated with its Canadian counterpart in one central location, the pre-arrival processing center would reduce bottle necks for U.S. bound cargo, requiring freight truckers to report details about their shipments before getting across the border," he explained.

The Senator says the proposed Homeland Security Bill provides $10.7 billion for border security and another $2.3 billion to hire 800 new inspectors and agents at the northern borders.

"Right now we only have 87 border patrol agents assigned to the 594 miles of New York," he said. "We need more people. We need more now. This budget will allow it to happen."

Schumer says he wants to make sure Western New York gets its "fair share" to improve area border security. Schumer also announced two new patrol boats were added to beef up security along Buffalo's border. Eileen Buckley, WBFO News