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Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy Act of 2010

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. OWENS. Madam Speaker, I want to thank Chairman Conyers and Chairman Thompson for their leadership and for bringing H.R. 4748 to the floor with the Senate amendment.

Our northern border with Canada spans over 4,000 miles, the longest open border in the world. I am intimately familiar with the unique status of our shared border. My congressional district in Upstate New York includes 13 ports of entry and border crossings, and nearly 2,000 jobs depend on a stable trading relationship with our northern neighbor.

We currently lack a unified approach to stopping the flow of drugs from the northern border. As the southern border has witnessed the spread of violence that has accompanied the increased drug trade, we must be proactive and vigilant in ensuring that our northern border remains safe and open for business. Organized criminal elements are increasingly exploiting the northern border to traffic narcotics, illicit cigarettes, firearms, and people. According to the 2010 National Drug Threat Assessment, the amount of ecstasy seized at or between northern border points of entry increased 594 percent from 2004 to 2009. In 2009, there were 1,100 drug-related arrests in New York's North Country. Just last week, the Franklin County Border Narcotics Task Force caught a Malone man believed to be headed downstate with 119 pounds of marijuana. The Narcotics Task Force, consisting of law enforcement officials from the Federal, State, and local level, stand to benefit greatly from this legislation. They will have the added advantage of increased cooperation and information sharing with their counterparts across the northern border.

By enacting this important legislation into law, the Federal agency that is responsible for stopping illegal drugs from entering the U.S. will, for the first time, be mandated by Congress to create a comprehensive strategy to stop the flow of drugs across the northern border. By coordinating the efforts of Federal, State, and local officials responsible for the safety of our communities, the Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy Act will help ensure that law enforcement has the tools and information they need to keep the drug trade out of the northern border communities.

This legislation also recognizes the important balance between allowing the flow of legitimate trade and travel across the border with Canada and stopping the flow of illegal narcotics. This new strategy will reflect the unique nature of the small communities that dot the northern border and recognize the need for continued cooperation and coordination with our counterparts in Canadian law enforcement. This legislation will ultimately make these communities safer, attracting new businesses and providing the long-term assurances of protection they need to grow and prosper.

Upstate New York has benefited for decades from a robust business relationship with our Canadian neighbors, and any illegal activity that takes place over our borders threatens that relationship. The Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy Act starts the process of developing a new approach to combating the international drug trade along our shared border with Canada. It is a vital component to the economic development and safety of our communities along that border. I ask my colleagues for their support.

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