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Sunday, March 26th, 2023

Measure targets ports of entry staffing shortages

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U.S. Sens. Gary Peters (D-MI) and John Cornyn (R-TX) recently reintroduced legislation to strengthen border security and address ports of entry personnel shortages.

The Securing America’s Ports of Entry Act, which passed out of committee last Congress, would fully staff the nation’s airports, seaports, and land ports of entry by requiring Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to hire no fewer than 600 additional officers annually until the agency’s staffing needs are met.

“Shortages of Customs and Border Protection officers at ports of entry in Michigan and the United States threaten CBP’s ability to facilitate safe and lawful trade and travel across our borders,” said Peters, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “We must ensure these dedicated officers, who have served on the frontlines throughout the pandemic, have the support they need to perform critical functions, like detecting and preventing illegal drugs from reaching our communities. This bipartisan legislation will take significant steps to ensure CBP has the personnel they need to secure our nation’s ports of entry – and maintain Michigan’s status as an international hub of commerce.”

Peters and Cornyn cited data that showed CBP has a shortage of over 900 officers. In addition to hiring more CBP officers, the bill would authorize the annual hiring of mission support staff and technicians to perform non-law enforcement functions in support of CBP.

“When CBP officers are pulled off their posts, we run the risk of legitimate trade and travel grinding to a halt,” Cornyn said. “Nowhere do we feel this more acutely than in Texas, where we have more Ports of Entry than any other state. This bill aims to address the ongoing crisis at the border while protecting the flow of trade.”