Senate Committee OKs Bill to Address Staffing Dearth at Ports of Entry

U.S. Immigration officer checking documents of tourists

The Senate advanced a bill aimed at boosting border security and addressing law enforcement shortages at ports of entry nationwide. 

The Securing America’s Ports of Entry Act was unanimously approved by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. The legislation would fully staff U.S. airports, seaports and land ports of entry by requiring U.S. Customs and Border Protection to hire 600 extra officers a year until the agency meets its staffing targets. 

The bill was introduced by Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and John Cornyn, R-Texas.

“When CBP officers are pulled off their posts, we run the risk of legitimate trade and travel grinding to a halt,” Cornyn said in a statement. “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 through our ports.”

The legislation received support from various groups, including the nation’s largest union of federal employees. 

Tony Reardon, national president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said in a statement the short-staffed 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.”

“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,” he said

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