Leahy Challenges Customs And Border Protection

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(Host) Senator Patrick Leahy says changes need to be made to U.S. border regulations to improve commerce and transportation.

Leahy questioned the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection this morning about how Vermont can re-establish passenger rail service to Montreal.

Service was discontinued in the 1980s because of concerns about the ability of the border patrol to screen passengers who cross the border.

Leahy says U.S. Customs and Border Protection should establish a "pre-screening facility" in the Montreal train station similar to what exists in foreign airports.

Customs and Border Commissioner Alan Bersin says he’s willing to consider such an idea.

(Bersin) "We are exploring with CBSA, the Canadian border Services Agency, the way in which we can expedite this pre-clearance. The difficulty in the Montreal-Vermont-New York corridor is that, unlike Vancouver-Seattle, there are many stops along the way which complicates the notion of pre-clearance because you can’t then segment the traffic when it arrives in New York."

(Host) Leahy also challenged Bersin to explain why Customers and Border Protection still maintains a checkpoint on Interstate 91 near White River Junction.

Leahy says he gets frequent complaints about a checkpoint that’s more than a two-hour drive from the border.

Bersin says his agency needs to do a better job of explaining why the checkpoint is valuable.

(Bersin) "Checkpoints have been a standard feature of border patrol strategy and tactics and are being applied on the northern border as we expand the presence there. The notion…" (Leahy) "It’s a long way from the border." (Bersin) "Well, the notion is layered security, which is the theory of action of border patrol activity throughout."

(Host) Bersin says federal officials in Vermont will schedule more meetings in the state to help explain the policy.

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