US-Mexican border in Arizona close to highway 85, captured in September 2016 By Martin Froyda Royalty-free stock photo ID: 550962325

Sending extra CBP officers to Texas ‘dangerous,’ union says

With the number of COVID-19 cases rising in Texas, the National Treasury Employees Union is raising concerns with Customs and Border Protection’s plan to rotate in more than 800 CBP officers from other ports to assist with border patrol.

CBP informed NTEU -- which represents 27,000 CBP employees at land, sea and air ports of entry around the country -- that the replacement officers would serve 60-day deployments to the Rio Grande Valley and Laredo and that the Department of Homeland Security has asked Congress for approval to reprogram funds to pay for the deployments. 

“We have grave concerns about sending additional federal law enforcement personnel into a region where COVID-19 cases are spiking and hospitals are nearly full,” NTEU National President Tony Reardon said in a statement. “The situation is already dangerous for the CBP employees stationed there -- and their families -- and we do not believe CBP is prepared to ensure that the risks of infection are minimized for an additional 800 Officers per deployment, who would need personal protective equipment, safe lodging and transportation, and potentially access to health care.”

So far, CBP has not yet committed to testing all employees for COVID-19 upon their return to their home ports or requiring them to quarantine at home for 14 days, NTEU officials said. The union added that “CBP still does not provide testing and effective contact tracing for employees who are already living and working along the border, full-time, who are in regular contact with members of the public as they are processed through the ports.”

NTEU said it is also concerned about CBP’s ability to notify impacted employees of a potential exposure to a colleague or a traveler who later tests positive.

“This is not just about the health and safety of CBP employees along the border but also the risk they could pose to their home ports and communities upon their return,” Reardon said.

Reader comments

Thu, Jul 9, 2020 MM

I'm pretty sure the covid infections at slaughter plants were spread by FSIS inspectors. They send in emergency ones when folks call in sick. Doh. The Secret Service is probably spreading it around, too.

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