Tester: Improvements needed for border security


WASHINGTON D.C.-A new report requested by Senator Jon Tester says federal agencies need better communication, and a better sharing of intelligence to improve U.S. border security.

That's the main theme contained in the 57-page report released today. Tester asked for the findings to answer questions about whether federal agencies are working together to secure the vast tracts of federally-owned land along both the Canadian and Mexican borders.

The main finding of the report is that there are critical gaps in security on the borders that are limiting the ability of Customs and Border Protection to fully secure the boundary, including communications and information sharing between federal, as well as local agencies.

Tester says the report points to a need to do more to secure the border against illegal drugs and terrorist threats.

"There's no doubt we've got to do better at securing the southern border, but this report also shows that Homeland Security's effort to secure the northern border has earned a grade of ‘incomplete'," said Tester, a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

While there's been a lot of attention the past few years on increasing the number of agents patrolling the border, Tester believes some of the solution lies with a better use of technology.

"These federal agencies have got to develop strategies and joint efforts that maximize existing resources so taxpayers are getting the most bang for their buck," Tester said in a statement. "We've got to make smarter use of technology because we don't need or want the border overloaded with federal agents. And we've got to keep working to make state and local law enforcement a part of the team."

The report also shows information sharing between several federal agencies, such as Homeland Security, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service have improved in recent years.

Federal lands comprise about 1,016 miles, or approximately 25 percent, of the nearly 4,000 miles of border between Canada and the contiental United States.