Tester Holds Border Patrol Chief Accountable and Fights to Beef Up Border Security
Senator Outlines Plan to Fix Staffing Issues Plaguing Northern Border
(U.S. Senate)-Senator Jon Tester today continued his push to improve security and strengthen law enforcement along the northern border by directly questioning the Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol.
Tester pushed Chief Mark Morgan during a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing to provide specific updates on initiatives the agency has implemented to improve security along the northern border. Tester directly asked him if the Border Patrol has the sufficient staff to secure the northern border and keep towns across Montana’s Hi-Line safe.
“The process the Border Patrol goes through to hire folks can be long and cumbersome, and do you have any recommendations to expedite that process?” Tester asked.
After Chief Morgan was unable to provide specifics, Tester called on him to produce a plan to improve the Border Patrol’s ability to recruit and retain local law enforcement officers and pressed him to work more closely with public schools across the Hi-Line to recruit Montana natives to protect the northern border.
“A lot of people don’t know about the career opportunities you have in the Customs and Border Protection,” Tester added. “You need to get folks on board who not only live on the border, but want to live there.”
During his testimony, Tester also highlighted the importance of Stonegarden grants to local communities, which are used to enhance cooperation between the local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies that defend the country’s borders. Tester helped secure over $870,000 in Stonegarden grants for Montana counties along the northern border this year.
Tester closed the hearing by encouraging Chief Morgan to strengthen the relationship between the Border Patrol and local farmers and ranchers to help ensure the entire 545 miles along the Montana-Canadian border is secured.
As Montana’s only member of the Homeland Security Committee, Tester has worked closely with law enforcement officials to increase norther border security.
In September, Tester pushed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to eliminate communication “dead zones” that exist along the norther border, which prevents Border Patrol agents from communicating internally and with local law enforcement.
Tester has also outlined a series of steps DHS should take in response to a new travel policy that allows Mexican nationals to enter Canada more easily. Tester asked DHS to identify additional resources that will be needed to patrol remote areas of the northern border in Montana, pinpoint additional national security threats that will arise from an increase of travelers from Mexico, and track and enforce security plans for Mexican travelers who overstay the six-months they are permitted to visit Canada.