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Mr. OWENS. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Chairman Conyers and Chairman Thompson for their leadership and for bringing H.R. 4748 to the floor.
I do live along the Canadian border, and much of my district contains a broad swath of Indian reservation and much of the timber lands that were described by my colleague from California.
Our northern border with Canada spans over 4,000 miles, the longest open border in the world. The livelihoods of thousands of workers and their families in Upstate New York depend on a stable trading relationship with our northern neighbor. In my district alone, we saw more than $677 million worth of goods exported to Canada in 2008. Nearly 20,000 jobs depend on this trading relationship.
Since coming into office in November, I have met with officials from local and Federal law enforcement, members of the trade community, and small business owners from my district. Immediately before coming to the floor, I was with a number of ICE agents who were discussing this very problem. One issue that nearly every one of them has mentioned to me is the importance of a safe and secure northern border that can ensure the movement of people and goods. Whether it's Canadian tourists who have driven to Upstate New York for dinner or a manufacturing plant that imports its raw materials from Canada, New York has benefited for decades from a robust business relationship across international borders, and any illegal activity that takes place on our border threatens that relationship.
Organized criminal elements are increasingly exploiting the northern border to traffic narcotics, illicit cigarettes, firearms, and humans. According to the 2010 National Drug Threat Assessment, the amount of ecstasy seized at or between northern border ports of entry increased 594 percent from 2004 to 2009. In 2009, there were 1,100 drug-related arrests of adults in New York's north country.
While our Nation's drug czar has developed a comprehensive strategy for dealing with the flow of drugs across the southwest border, dealing with this problem at the northern border is currently left up to individual law enforcement agencies. The Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy Act will require the Office of National Drug Control Policy to develop a comprehensive counternarcotics plan on the northern border.
By passing this legislation, we will be requiring all the relevant law enforcement officials at the Federal, State, and local levels to come together and start the process of developing a new approach to combat this problem. It is vital to both the economic development of our region and the safety of our community that we take the steps to stop the drug trade across our northern border. I ask my colleagues for their support.
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