Report requested by Tester details northern border security strengths, weaknesses

Senator to push DHS on working more effectively with local law enforcement, making better use of technology

(U.S. SENATE) – A report requested by Senator Jon Tester on security strengths and weaknesses along America’s borders has been published, highlighting potential improvements necessary to bolster the nation’s security.

The report focuses on whether federal agencies are working together to secure the vast stretches of the border owned by the federal government. 

The study points out critical gaps in security along the U.S.-Canadian border that limit the ability of Customs and Border Protection to fully secure the border—gaps including a lack of interoperable communications systems and limited sharing of intelligence and information between local and federal officials.

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.  “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.  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.”

“If we can make these improvements, our country will be stronger and our communities will be safer,” Tester added.

The report—available online HERE—also shows that 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 continental United States.

The study, conducted by the Government Accountability Office, builds on a measure Tester passed into law as part of the implementation of the 9/11 Commission recommendations.  Tester’s earlier amendment mandated a study exclusively on security along the U.S.-Canadian border.