Bipartisan legislation authored by U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) and John Cornyn (R-TX) that would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to fully staff America’s airports, seaports and land ports of entry has been approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
The legislation would require U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to hire no less than 600 additional officers a year until the agency’s staffing needs at airports, seaports and land ports of entry are met. The bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.
The Securing America’s Ports of Entry Act would also authorize the annual hiring of mission support staff and technicians to perform non-law enforcement functions in support of CBP. These professionals would allow CBP officers to focus their efforts on law enforcement priorities, such as preventing drug trafficking, while supporting lawful international commerce through the nation’s ports of entry.
The bill also requires reporting on infrastructure improvements at ports of entry that would enhance drug interdiction, information on detection equipment that would help officers better identify drugs, and safety equipment to protect officers from accidental exposure to dangerous toxins. Addressing a shortage of CBP officers would also help to reduce waiting times for merchandise, agriculture, luggage, and travelers coming through our ports of entry.
“The airport industry greatly appreciates the continued leadership of Senators Peters and Cornyn in passing this important bill to increase the authorized number of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at our ports-of-entry,” said Kevin M. Burke, President and CEO of Airports Council International – North America. “International travel and trade are back, but staffing shortfalls are hampering CBP’s ability to handle the growing volumes of passengers and cargo. CBP’s Workload Staffing Model demonstrates the agency needs additional front-line officers to provide adequate coverage across the system, including at airport international arrival halls and preclearance locations, maritime ports, express-carrier facilities, and land-border crossings.”