Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27), Ranking Member of the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, and Representative Patrick Meehan (PA-7), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence held a field hearing at Buffalo’s U.S. Courthouse entitled “Beyond Borders: Are the Department of Homeland Security’s International Agreements Ensuring Actionable Intelligence to Combat Threats to the U.S. Homeland?” Congresswoman Kathy Hochul (NY-26), a member of the Subcommittee, also participated in the hearing.
“I am pleased that we had the opportunity to bring important homeland security discussions from Washington, D.C. to Western New York,” said Congressman Higgins. “We can never lose sight of the impact that federal issues have on the local level, so it was a welcome opportunity to allow local officials to share their perspectives and experiences on issues that are so important to our region.”
“This field hearing provided an excellent opportunity to highlight the need to remove regulatory and logistical barriers to commerce with Canada, which is critical to our local economy,” said Rep. Hochul. “The challenges discussed here today underline the important impact of plans for a new Customs and Border Protection facility at the Niagara Air Station as well as preserving the Canadian Consulate in Buffalo as it has served to facilitate the free flow of commerce and trade in the region.”
Testifying at the hearing were Deborah Meyers, Director of Canadian Affairs in the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of International Affairs; Daniel J. Neaverth Jr., Commissioner of the Erie County Department of Emergency Services; and Niagara County Sheriff James Voutour. Full copies of witness testimonies are available on the Homeland Security Committee website.
Congressman Higgins has been active on the issue of preserving Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) funding for the Buffalo-Erie-Niagara region and is the Co-chair of the Preserving UASI Capability Gains Caucus.
Higgins and Hochul have also previously expressed concerns about the presence of Hezbollah in the Western Hemisphere, particularly in the Toronto area, just 90 minutes away from their Western New York community.
In addition to UASI and Hezbollah, the other key issues discussed included collaborative efforts between US and Canadian public safety agencies and the potential for the pre-inspection pilot project at a border crossing in WNY.