U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy: Close Morses Line Border Crossing | News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice
Pin It
Favorite

U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy: Close Morses Line Border Crossing 

6a00d83451b91969e20133ee4d53e1970b-pi.jpg

In the wake of a spirited public meeting on Saturday, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is urging Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to close down the Morses Line border crossing.

"The past nine years have seen a dramatic change in the way America protects its borders — and aging ports of entry critical to security and commerce need upgrades.  It is my opinion, and the opinion of all who spoke at the Franklin public meeting, that the Morses Line port is not a critical link in the chain of our nation’s security or commerce," wrote Leahy. "If it requires a major influx of taxpayer funding to ensure the dedicated agents who protect or borders can do their jobs safely, then it is best to close the port and focus on more critical border security needs."

Leahy, who is a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he hoped Napolitano would voluntarily close down the port, but added that he would be prepared to close it as part of the budget review process.

The meeting, held in the Franklin Town Hall, was packed, according to an Associated Press report by John Curran. Napolitano promised last month to hold such a hearing while being questioned by the committee Leahy chairs — the Senate Judiciary Committee.

A proposed upgrade to the border crossing (see "Crossing the Line," 9/30/09) has stirred passionate debate in Franklin County for months. After initially proposing buying 10 acres of the Rainville's land for the project, the CBP scaled back the project's footprint to 4.9 acres. During the Saturday's meeting, the proposal was reduced to 2.2 acres. Because the Rainvilles aren't interested in selling their land, no price has been offered yet for the parcel.

"Though I was pleased Customs and Border Protection worked to reduce the footprint of the port modernization project from 10 acres to 2.2 acres, the process to do so was plagued by communications shortcomings and too little understanding of the value of agricultural land," wrote Leahy. "I have long believed that enabling cross border trade must be carefully balanced with ensuring our nation’s security.  I also believe that when border security issues are implemented at the local level, we must acknowledge that every community is different."

Leahy's letter, issued Sunday, comes on the heels of a joint legislative resolution passed in the waning days of the session. Closing the border crossing is a real option, according to CBP officials. On Wednesday, Brian Rainville is headed to Capitol Hill to testify on the matter because, he says, "A house oversight committee would like to know why DHS developed a $15.4 million plan for a crossing they should have closed."

(Photo credit: Matthew Thorsen)

Here is the full text of Leahy's letter to Napolitano: 

May 23, 2010

The Honorable Janet Napolitano, Secretary

Unites States Department of Homeland Security Washington, DC 20528


Dear Secretary Napolitano:

Thank you for arranging Saturday’s public meeting in Franklin, Vermont concerning the Morses Line port of entry modernization project, as I requested when you appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 27, 2010.  I am writing to request that the Department of Homeland Security follow the overwhelming public sentiment expressed at that meeting – that the existing port be closed.

The past nine years have seen a dramatic change in the way America protects its borders – and aging ports of entry critical to security and commerce need upgrades.  It is my opinion, and the opinion of all who spoke at the Franklin public meeting, that the Morses Line port is not a critical link in the chain of our nation’s security or commerce.  If it requires a major influx of tax payer funding to ensure the dedicated agents who protect or borders can do their jobs safely, then it is best to close the port and focus on more critical border security needs.

In addition, the Morses Line port of entry modernization project threatens a multi-generational operational dairy farm owned by the Rainville family.  Though I was pleased Customs and Border Protection worked to reduce the footprint of the port modernization project from 10 acres to 2.2 acres, the process to do so was plagued by communications shortcomings and too little understanding of the value of agricultural land.

I have long believed that enabling cross border trade must be carefully balanced with ensuring our nation’s security.  I also believe that when border security issues are implemented at the local level, we must acknowledge that every community is different.

I appreciate the hard work you and the entire Department of Homeland Security do to balance these complex issues.

I hope this request to close the Morses Line port of entry can be made without any further appropriations from the Federal government. However, as a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I stand ready to work with you during the appropriations process to close the port if necessary.

Thank you for your prompt consideration of my request.
 
Sincerely,

PATRICK LEAHY
U.S. Senator

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

Tags: ,

Pin It
Favorite

More by Shay Totten

About The Author

Shay Totten

Shay Totten

Bio:
Shay Totten wrote "Fair Game," a weekly political column, from April 2008-December 2011.

Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

Seven Days moderates comments in order to ensure a civil environment. Please treat the comments section as you would a town meeting, dinner party or classroom discussion. In other words, keep commenting classy! Read our guidelines...

Note: Comments are limited to 300 words.

Recent Comments

Social Club

Like Seven Days contests and events? Join the club!

See an example of this newsletter...

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative
newsletters:

All content © 2017 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401
Website powered by Foundation