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Reps fight for New York funds

Western New York representatives are asking the Department of Homeland Security to reconsider its decision to remove Albany, Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse from eligibility in the Urban Area Security Initiative program for 2011.

Reps. Louise Slaughter of Fairport, Brian Higgins of South Buffalo and Paul Tonka of Amsterdam sent a letter Friday outlining their concerns about eliminating 32 regions, including the upstate New York communities, after $162 million was cut in the fiscal 2011 continuing resolution instead of reducing funding for all 64 urban areas.

“In Western New York, we appreciate the many national security needs across the country, but when upstate cities, two of which are on an international border, are denied funding only to have funding allocated to smaller cities in America’s interior, I have to question our security priorities,” said Slaughter.

Higgins, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, noted the upstate New York region has unique risk factors many of which, if compromised, could have a statewide and nationwide impact.

The UASI program, administered by DHS, focuses on enhancing regional preparedness in targeted areas.