Janet Napolitano will visit Havre
Janet Napolitano, secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is scheduled to hold a town hall meeting in Havre Wednesday to discuss northern border issues.
Napolitano and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin will join Montana’s U.S. Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester for a tour of facilities in Montana, including at the Port of Piegan north of Babb and Port of Sweetgrass north of Shelby, before coming to Havre to tour the new Border Patrol Station that opened here in 2009.
Aaron Murphy, spokesman for Tester, said the town hall meeting set to start at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Havre Border Patrol station, will be open for any topic, “from security to commerce to (the Port of) Whitetail.”
Tester, who sits on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, invited Napolitano to tour the border in Montana.
Napolitano also will meet with state and local officials and private stakeholders to talk about issues regarding securing the northern border during the tour of facilities. After touring Sweetgrass, she is scheduled to have a round-table discussion about Homeland Security’s collaboration with state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies on border issues.
She is scheduled to first stop in Great Falls Tuesday to tour the westside levee district of that community before starting her tour of the northern border facilities Wednesday.
After the Montana tour, Napolitano will travel to Chicago for a meeting Thursday with the International Association of Fire Chiefs and a later meeting with Mayor Richard Daley and other officials.
Several border issues have been prominent in the Havre area over the last few years, including a push to upgrade the Port of Wild Horse north of Havre to a 24-hour commercial facility, with local leaders in the Havre area and Alberta saying that would increase economic activities and provide a direct link to oil and gas fields in Alberta.
The construction of the new patrol station, built to house the increased number of Border Patrol agents who have come to the area after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks was a high-profile item. Part of that discussion was about rumors that the agency planned to move its Havre Sector offices, housed just south of town, to Great Falls.
During those discussions in 2007 agency officials said no plans were in the books to move the sector office, which oversees the operations along the 452 miles of U.S.-Canadian border in the sector.
Another high-profile issue is east of Havre, at the Port of Whitetail near Scobey. An $8.5 million upgrade of facilities at that port, which sees an average of five vehicles a day, was put on hold after the Canadian government announced it would shut down the facilities on its side of the port next spring.
Work on an $8-million upgrade to the U.S. facilities at Wild Horse north of Havre is ongoing this summer.