Havre Daily News: Controversial bill raised at Havre border meeting

A topic raised at a meeting to collect comments on a U. S. Customs and Border Protection study in Havre Thursday had to deal with legislation instead: A proposal to increase CBP’s authority on federal land within 100 miles of the border.

CBP held the Havre meeting as one of a series across the northern border to collect comments on a study about social and environmental impacts of securing the northern border.

But the first question from the audience had to do with a bill in Congress that would give CBP authority over all federal land within 100 miles of the border.

Havreite Lou Hagener, a retired U. S. Bureau of Land Management employee, asked if there is any difference between the programmatic environmental impact statement being discussed and House Resolution 1505, which would give CBP authority over all federal lands within 100 miles of the border, the same corridor examined in the study.

The legislation, co-sponsored by U. S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., “appears to be giving Homeland Security carte blanche over public land in the same corridor, ” Hagener said.

“That’s legislation. That is Congress doing that, ” Paul Martin of CBP said. “We’ve done this, Customs and Border protection took on doing this … more than a year ago. ”

He said the 100-mile corridor was selected as a reasonable region in which CBP activities could extend, such as in pursuit of a suspect.

“I can’t say why Congress picked the same 100-mile corridor. I assume they have their reasons, ” Martin said. “But for us, from an operational perspective, it made sense to evaluate it. ”

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