NTEU urges more hiring to address CBP preclearance expansion

The National Treasury Employees Union, which represents about 25,000 Customs and Border Protection employees, is asking Congress to authorize additional funding for more hiring at the agency.

The Department of Homeland Security is working to increase the number of foreign passengers who travel through preclearance from 15 percent to 33 percent by 2024, and some new preclearance operations could be open by 2019, but NTEU President Tony Reardon told Congress this week that staffing shortages at the nation’s ports of entry should be addressed first.

“NTEU recognizes the security benefits of preclearance including preventing high-risk travelers from boarding aircraft bound for the U.S. and reduced wait times for passenger processing at the busiest U.S. international airports,” Reardon testified at a House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation and Protective Security hearing. “Nonetheless, NTEU has serious concerns about the impact of preclearance expansion on the already critical staffing shortages at the nation’s ports of entry,” he added.

According to NTEU, CBP currently has 1,400 CBP officer vacancies and needs an additional 2,100 officers and 631 agriculture specialists, and cannot afford to divert officers to expand preclearance operations.

Additionally, CBP raised concern about the lack of funding proposed for additional CBP personnel in fiscal year 2018.

“If Congress is serious about improving aviation security around the globe, there is an opportunity to address the justified and documented need to fund additional CBP staffing at the ports in the omnibus bill that will be considered later this year,” Reardon said in his testimony. “On behalf of the men and women represented by NTEU at the nation’s ports of entry, I urge you to authorize and fund them at least to the levels that BPAs and ICE agents are funded in the recently approved [fiscal year 2018] House appropriations bill.” 

Reader comments

Fri, Sep 29, 2017

How about using the people at customs who won't be processing as many people as they enter the country?

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