U.S. CUSTOMSÆ HEIGHTENED SECURITY DOESNÆT STOP LEGITIMATE TRADE
U.S. Customs has remained on the highest state of alert since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but legitimate trade continues to flow across the borders.
“We never closed our borders,” said Thomas W. Hardy, Customs’ director of field operations for the Northwest Great Plains Customs Management Center. “We are in business. But in terms of terrorist activities, it’s not business as usual.”
To prevent backups, especially at the land borders, Customs monitors cargo wait times through the ports throughout the day, posting the average wait-times twice daily on its Web site, http://www.customs.gov.
Hardy said some delays are simply due to short-run surges in truck traffic and construction projects at the border crossings. Drug smuggling is also an ongoing problem for the agency.
“We’re not sacrificing trade laws and anti-drug smuggling activities,” said Lois A. Fields, Customs’ director of field operations for the North Pacific Customs Management Center.
Some Customs operations have suffered in recent weeks due to the increase of personnel at the ports for anti-terrorism efforts.
Customs is pursuing increased anti-terrorism funds from Congress and hopes to boost its acquisition of new inspection technologies, such as radiation detectors and biometric devices.