Tim Leeds Havre Daily News email@example.com
North-central Montanans have a rare opportunity Wednesday to participate in the highest level of U.S. government: Sen. Jon Tester is holding a formal Senate hearing in Havre on the issue of border security. “It’s not very often that we get official Senate hearings here in Havre,” said Paul Tuss, executive director of Bear Paw Development Corp. The Senate Homeland Security Committee field hearing is the end of a tour related to border security in northern Montana. This week Tester has traveled through the area on a tour that includes stops at the Port of Raymond, the Malta U.S. Border Patrol Station, the Port of Scobey, the Port of Turner, and the headquarters of the U.S. Border Patrol's Havre Sector. Witnesses scheduled to testify at the hearing include local law enforcement officials, U. S. Border Patrol officials and Department of Homeland Security officials. Tuss said he encourages everyone who is able to take some time out of their busy schedules to attend the hearing, starting at 10 a. m. at Hensler Auditorium in the Applied Technology Center on the Montana State University-Northern campus. Along with formal testimony from local law enforcement officials about their needs in providing security, Tester will also hold a listening session after the formal hearing, Tuss said. “First of all, no one is more concerned about border security than people who live along the border, so its highly appropriate that Senator Tester has brought this formal hearing to Havre ,” he said. “Local law enforcement officials get to dialogue with him about security needs along what appears to be, from this latest report, a very porous border.” A report released in May, commissioned by the Senate Finance Committee chaired by Montana Sen. Max Baucus, showed that agents doing tests over several years were often able to cross the border using falsified identification or at areas between staffed ports of entry. The Department of Homeland Security has implemented measures to improve security, and Baucus said he is pleased but will continue to monitor the situation. But, Tuss said, economics is also a key issue for the border. “From an economic development perspective I’m very pleased That (Tester) has agreed to, immediately after the hearing, hold a listening session about other issues,” Tuss said. Tuss said it is important for the federal government to remember the trade relationships that have gone on for a century-and-ahalf across the border between Montana and Canada. “In our area the issue along the border is related to the free flow of goods, making sure there is no impediment to that flow of commerce and doing whatever we can to generate economic development and job growth,” Tuss said. He said people during the listening session need to let Tester know that having a secure border doesn’t mean that economic flow needs to stop or decrease. “They are not mutually exclusive,” Tuss said.