Washington D.C. – Customs and Border Protection could hire 600 new officers each year for five years for the nation's ports of entry under legislation endorsed by the National Treasury Employees Union and approved today by a Senate committee
The Securing America's Ports of Entry Act passed with bipartisan support from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and now awaits action by the full Senate.
"The understaffed ports of entry are finally getting the attention they deserve as Congress contemplates multiple proposals to boost staffing levels and provide adequate funding for CBP's port operations," said NTEU National President Tony Reardon. "The men and women of CBP are grateful for the support and eagerly await final passage of legislation that takes an important step toward giving them the personnel and resources they need to facilitate legitimate trade and travel and interdict illicit goods and drugs."
CBP’s most recent onboard staffing data and Workload Staffing Model show a need for an additional 3,700 CBP Officers to work at the 328 land, air and sea ports around the country.
The bill approved Wednesday, sponsored by Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), would authorize the hiring of 600 additional CBP Officers and requisite support staff per year until the staffing gap is eliminated.
In recent weeks, a growing coalition of business and industry has joined NTEU's call for increased CBP staffing levels because port operations are crucial to the American economy. According to the Joint Economic Committee, 1.1 million people and $5.9 billion in goods legally enter and exit through the ports of entry every day. The volume of commerce crossing our borders has more than tripled in the past 25 years.
"As I have testified repeatedly to Congress, understaffed ports are a threat to the economy and security of the country, but also the safety and morale of the law enforcement personnel who work at the ports," Reardon said. "Adding staff will improve processing times for legitimate trade and travel and provide relief for staff who are burdened with excessive overtime, double-shifts and temporary duty assignments away from home."
NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 33 federal agencies and departments.