Bor­der cri­sis may af­fect cross­ings to Canada

Trans­fer of 300 of­fi­cers south­ward stirs con­cern

The Buffalo News - - FRONT PAGE - By Jerry Zrem­ski N E WS WA SHI NGTON BU R E AU CHIE F

WASHINGTON – U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion plans to trans­fer at least 300 of­fi­cers next month from the na­tion’s air­ports and north­ern bor­der to southern bor­der out­posts over­whelmed with in­com­ing asy­lum-seek­ers, a prospec­tive move that’s al­ready rais­ing con­cerns that it could leave U.SCanada bor­der cross­ings short-staffed at the start of the heavy sum­mer travel sea­son.

Cus­toms of­fi­cials re­vealed their plans Thurs­day in a con­fer­ence call with in­sti­tu­tions that would be af­fected by the move.

Two sources fa­mil­iar with the agency’s plans told The Buf­falo News af­ter the call that the agency said it plans to tem­po­rar­ily shift at least 300 of­fi­cers south­ward in May to deal with the crush of newcomers entering the U.S. from Mexico.

The cus­toms of­fi­cials did not spec­ify which bor­der cross­ings or air­ports would lose per­son­nel be­cause of the move, the sources said.

But Rep. Brian Hig­gins, the head of the Peace Bridge Authority and the pres­i­dent of the union that rep­re­sents Buf­falo-area cus­toms of­fi­cers all ex­pressed wor­ries that the agency would send of­fi­cers from Buf­falo to the Rio Grande Val­ley re­gion in Texas where most un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants ar­rive.

Hig­gins said any trans­fer of cus­toms agents from the Buf­falo area to the southern bor­der could lead to back­ups at the lo­cal bridges into Canada. That be­ing the case, he wrote a let­ter Thurs­day to Kevin McAleenan, the act­ing sec­re­tary of home­land se­cu­rity, to protest any move of per­son­nel away

Bor­der on Page A4

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