The Department of Homeland Security has announced plans to transfer more than 700 border agents from the 120 ports of entry at the Northern (Canadian) border to the Southern (Mexican) border. The purpose is to bolster the number of agents available to help with asylum seekers.

Members of the Congressional Northern Border Caucus (NBC) oppose these plans. Approximately 400,000 people and $1.6 billion in products cross the Canadian border daily. Removing border agents will cause delays, the Members contend, and the delays will only increase as the summer tourist season gets underway.

Members of the NBC have security concerns and also fear that delays will lead to economic hardships in their states. Representative Annie Kuster (D-N.H.) said, “Moving Customs and Border Protection personnel away from our northern border has the potential to impact U.S.-Canadian commerce and tourism just as we enter the busy summer months.” In a bipartisan letter to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, Representatives from New York, Michigan, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Washington, North Dakota, and Vermont complained, “The decision to deploy northern border CBP officers to the southern border makes it increasingly more difficult for the agency to meet their core mission requirements at the border which include effectively securing U.S. points of entry and safeguarding and streamlining lawful trade and travel . . . .”

The U.S./Canada border stretches 5,525 miles and is the “longest land boundary between two countries in the world.” As long ago as 2010, close to 20 million Canadians took overnight trips to the U.S. Taking that trip during the summer months has always meant delays, but, with even more significant delays looming, Canadians may rethink travelling elsewhere.

Employers likely will feel the effects, too. Ports of entry already are turning away individuals applying for renewals of L visas. Along with tourists, potential U.S. employees applying for TNs or Ls at the ports of entry undoubtedly will be subject to delays that are longer than usual as the ports of entry struggle to keep up.

Senator Susan Collins (R-Me.) noted, “[T]he U.S. government will be monitoring the Northern border to ensure that it is not ‘negatively affected’ by [the] transfers.” Jackson Lewis attorneys will provide updates on the DHS plans as they materialize.