Buffalo's Peace Bridge reported waits of up to an hour for daily commuters this summer.
- Lawmakers announce bill to mandate staffing at northern border
- Northern border staffing report from DHS more than a month late
- Border crossing in WNY important with NFL season starting
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said the blame lies with the Department of Homeland Security. In May, DHS announced it was moving as many as 300 officers from northern ports of entry to the southern border.
"Regardless of how you feel about the best ways to address the southern border crisis, one thing is certain: you don't rob Peter to pay Paul. You don't create huge traffic jams here in Western New York because there may be some problems somewhere else," Schumer said.
Schumer and Rep. Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, announced on Thursday they will sponsor legislation mandating northern border ports maintain pre-established staffing levels.
"That border is very important to our life quality," Higgins said. "It's very important to our national security and it's very important to the economy of Buffalo and Western New York."
Meanwhile, Congress is still waiting on a report from Customs and Border Patrol regarding staffing at the northern border. They passed legislation earlier this summer and it was due August 1 — more than a month ago.
"Three weeks ago the Acting Customs and Border Protection administrator was in Buffalo, Mark Morgan, and I asked him about the letter giving us a report on staffing that Senator Schumer has led," Higgins said. "He told me that he thought he signed it that morning. We still do not have it."
The lawmakers plan to introduce the bill when they return to Washington next week. With Buffalo Bills season coming up and roughly 20 percent of the home crowd coming from Canada, they said it's important to pass it quickly.
"It looks like a good season," Schumer said. "It looks like people on both sides of the border are enthusiastic but again we can't afford these long waits."
As for the delinquent report, Schumer says Congress can withhold future funding to DHS if it doesn't submit it soon.