Washington, D.C – The House version of the 2018 appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security contains a glaring omission: No new money to address the severe Customs and Border Protection (CBP) staffing crisis at the nation’s ports of entry.
The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) sent a letter today to the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee urging him to provide enough funding to hire additional CBP Officers and Agriculture Specialists and restore the ports to peak safety and efficiency.
“The chronic understaffing at air, land and sea ports around the country delays shippers and travelers and hinders business and tourism,” said NTEU National President Tony Reardon. “For every dollar Congress thinks it saves by not hiring more CBP personnel, our nation loses even more in economic activity.”
There is a longstanding existing vacancy rate of nearly 1,400 CBP Officers at the ports. And according to CBP’s own workload staffing model, an additional 2,100 Officers are needed to meet Fiscal Year 2017 staffing needs. All told, that is a current shortage of 3,500 CBP officers, Reardon told House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen.
CBP’s modeling also shows a need for an additional 631 CBP Agriculture Specialists.
According to the U.S. Department of Treasury, more than 50 million Americans work for companies that engage in international trade and travel. They deserve to have ports that are fully staffed and able to process people and goods as quickly as possible. For every 33 additional CBP Officers hired, the U.S. can potentially gain more than 1,000 private sector jobs.
Staffing shortages also hurt employee morale, with forced overtime shifts, unwanted temporary duty assignments far from home and high turnover.
“Properly staffing the nation’s 328 ports of entry stimulates economic growth and improves border security,” Reardon said. “We expect Congress will recognize this and provide CBP with the money necessary to end the staffing crisis.”
NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 31 federal agencies and departments, including about 25,000 CBP employees.