Union: CBP budget puts nation’s economy at risk

The proposed 2018 Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill neglects to account for the current shortage of officers and agricultural specialists needed at Customs and Border Protection, according to Tony Reardon, national president of the National Treasury Employees Union, who wrote to the House Appropriations Committee urging more funding.

The existing vacancy rate of CBP officers has been nearly 1,400 for some time. In addition, the current staffing model for fiscal 2017 calls for the addition of 2,100 officers and 361 agricultural specialists, making the total shortage 3,861 employees.

"The chronic understaffing at air, land and sea ports around the country delays shippers and travelers and hinders business and tourism," wrote Reardon. "For every dollar Congress thinks it saves by not hiring more CBP personnel, our nation loses even more in economic activity."

The letter emphasizes the need for a fully staffed CBP for the United States. In addition to the numerous American citizens working for companies engaged in international trade and travel deserving of fully staffed ports capable of processing products safely and efficiently, the NTEU president emphasized the benefit to the job market, declaring "for every 33 additional CBP officers hired, the U.S. can potentially gain over 1,000 private sector jobs."

"Properly staffing the nation's 328 ports of entry stimulates economic growth and improves border security," Reardon said. "We expect Congress will recognize this and provide CBP with the money necessary to end the staffing crisis."

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