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Border Protection in Works Despite Homeland Security Report

June 29, 2007 — A long-awaited federal border-protection unit is bound for V.I. waters despite initial reluctance by the Department of Homeland Security.
The agency released a 10-page report last week saying the territory didn't need a special border-protection unit, but Delegate Donna M. Christensen paid no mind.
"We just didn't accept that report," Christensen said after landing at Cyril E. King Airport from Washington on Friday. "There will be some type of border patrol unit here, beginning with a marine unit."
The Homeland Security report was written before a delegation from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and members of the House Committee on Homeland Security visited the territory in April, Christensen said.
"When they came and sat down with all our local and federal law-enforcement officials, they changed their minds," she said.
The Homeland Security report was making its way through official channels when the visit occurred in April, thus it was out of date when released, she said. Christensen has long championed increased border protection for the territory, citing miles of coastlines rife with immigrant- and drug-smugglers.
The patrols are scheduled to start around St. Thomas and St. John in two weeks or so, then later include St. Croix, Christensen said.
The patrols will initially be headed by federal agents on loan from Miami or San Juan until a permanent director can be hired, she said. Christensen is pushing for a Virgin Islander to get the job.
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