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Tuesday, July 23rd, 2024

BEST Facilitation Act introduced to speed up cargo screenings at ports of entry

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With the bicameral introduction of the Border Enforcement, Security, and Trade (BEST) Facilitation Act (H.R. 5990) last week, supporters seek to allot for a series of new image technicians within Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to expedite screenings at U.S. ports of entry.

Created by U.S. Reps. Juan Ciscomani (R-AZ) and Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX), the bill would create a specialized screening position within CBP to determine which cargo requires further inspection. In the Senate, companion legislation was introduced by U.S. Sens. James Lankford (R-OK), and Mark Kelly (D-AZ).

“The addition of image technicians at our ports of entry will allow CBP officers to review what’s coming through in a more thorough manner, thwarting the flow of drugs, weapons, and human smuggling that we are currently seeing,” Ciscomani said. “Law enforcement has previously called for this type of support and, as morale plummets, I am proud to lead on this bipartisan, bicameral effort to support CBP and law enforcement.”

It is not just a matter of morale shortage – supporters also called out personnel shortages undermining border security and increasing wait times. By adding positions specifically dedicated to scanning, it would also allow CBP to free up officers currently pulled for that duty to other functions.

“Customs and Border Protection need the necessary resources to do the difficult job of keeping illegal drugs, like fentanyl, and other dangerous substances from entering our country,” Kelly said. “As we continue the work to upgrade and expand our ports of entry, the BEST Facilitation Act will help CBP more quickly reach the goal of 100% scanning while increasing trade, decreasing wait times, and enhancing the ability to stop illegal drugs and cargo. As we know in Arizona, ports are a major economic benefit to our communities, and this bill provides for additional port personnel to ensure our ports are secure and efficient.”

Outside the halls of Congress, the bill was backed by the National Sheriffs’ Association, National Association of Counties (NACo), U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Travel Association and the National Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association, among others.