The U. S. Customs and Border Protection agency is holding a meeting in Havre to present a study on what it could do to upgrade security and promote legal trade on the northern U. S. border.
The meeting, set for Thursday from 7 to 9 p. m. at the TownHouse Inns of Havre, comes a little more than a year after the agency held a meeting in Havre to collect comments on effects of CPB actions in the region. The Havre meeting, where the headquarters of a Border Patrol sector that covers more than 450 miles of U. S.-Canadian border is located, was one of 11 held across the nation to discuss northern border issues.
The agency has released its Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement that lists possible environmental and socioeconomic effects of current and possible future border security activities along the northern border.
The PEIS is open for comment from 45 days after it was released.
“CBP protects against terrorism, human and drug smuggling, illegal migration, and agricultural pests while simultaneously facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel, ” the release announcing the meeting said. “CBP plans to use information from the analysis in the Final PEIS for planning and decision making purposes — evaluating its mission and environmental stewardship responsibilities. ”
The PEIS lists five possible alternatives, with one being no changes in policy and the last being CBP using any combination of the other alternatives across the entire border or in specific regions “based on what would be most effective in responding to a changing threat environment along the Northern Border. It is impossible to predict what measures will be needed at any point in time, and the needed mix is likely to change constantly because the threat environment changes constantly. ”
The other three options included focusing on replacing or providing new permanent facilities or upgrading existing facilities.
“This alternative would help meet the need for the proposed program because the new and improved facilities would make it more difficult for cross-border violators to cross the border. It would also divert traffic from or increase the capacity of the more heavily used (points of entry) ; this would decrease waiting times, ” the PEIS states.
Another is to focus on deploying “more effective surveillance and communications technologies.
“These plans involve fielding upgraded surveillance and telecommunications systems (e. g., remote sensors, short-range radar, remote and mobile video surveillance and communications systems, new camera systems, and upgrades to stationary communications systems) that would enable (Border Patrol) to focus their efforts on identified threat areas, improve agent and officer communication systems, and deploy personnel to resolve incidents with maximum efficiency, ” the PEIS says.
The other option focuses on constructing additional barriers, access roads, and related facilities, ” the PEIS says. “The barriers would include selective fencing and vehicle barriers at selected points along the border and would deter and delay cross border violators. ”
After the public comment period, which closes Monday, Oct. 31, CBP will prepare a Final PEIS, which is expected to be released in February.
People can find more information about the public meetings and the project, or obtain a copy of the draft PEIS by visiting the project’s website at www.NorthernBorderPEIS.com. A copy of the PEIS may also be requested by calling (866) 760-1421 or by mailing a request to: CBP Northern Border PEIS, P.O. Box 3625, McLean, VA 22102. CBP also has distributed copies of the draft PEIS on computer CD-ROM discs to public libraries along the northern border.