• ITVI.USA
    16,030.520
    117.340
    0.7%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.809
    0.016
    0.6%
  • OTRI.USA
    22.220
    -0.080
    -0.4%
  • OTVI.USA
    16,016.550
    115.560
    0.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.950
    -0.570
    -16.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.610
    0.650
    22%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.370
    -0.240
    -14.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.550
    0.210
    6.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.320
    0.220
    10.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.110
    0.250
    6.5%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    0.000
    0%
  • ITVI.USA
    16,030.520
    117.340
    0.7%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.809
    0.016
    0.6%
  • OTRI.USA
    22.220
    -0.080
    -0.4%
  • OTVI.USA
    16,016.550
    115.560
    0.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.950
    -0.570
    -16.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.610
    0.650
    22%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.370
    -0.240
    -14.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.550
    0.210
    6.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.320
    0.220
    10.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.110
    0.250
    6.5%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    0.000
    0%
American ShipperShippingTrade and Compliance

Border Protection grapples with gaps in ranks

The union representing about 25,000 CBP officers cites “forced overtime shifts, multiple deployments away from home and low morale.”

   A House hearing regarding the U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner’s “vision for the future” on Wednesday raised concerns from lawmakers about how the agency plans to shore up the ranks of its frontline officers at the nation’s ports of entry.
   President Trump earlier this month ordered National Guard troops to the border with Mexico to help the Border Patrol stem the rise of illegal immigration. CBP officers are also under intense pressure to interdict increasingly dangerous narcotics among travelers and cargo entering the United States via the southern border.
   CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan acknowledged to the House Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee that CBP and Border Patrol officers routinely face dangerous encounters at remote posts along the southern border, risk deadly exposure to drugs like Fentanyl, require more field technologies and experience overtime. Land border posts also tend to be the least long-term desired ports of entry for career officers.
   McAleenan praised the agency’s frontline officers for their dedication and hard work while “facing relentless amounts of traffic,” but noted that these conditions contribute to turnover.  
   The commissioner told the House subcommittee that recruitment and retention are a top priority of his administration. 
   In the past two years, CBP has instituted more than 40 improvements to its hiring process, which McAleenan said “have resulted in significant recruitment and hiring gains despite record low unemployment around the United States and intense competition for highly qualified, mission-inspired people.”
   McAleenan in his prepared testimony outlined that the changes in the agency’s recruitment procedures have reduced the average time to hire for new officers. Over the past year, about 70 percent of new Border Patrol agents and 60 percent of new CBP officers were brought on board in 313 days or less, with 17 percent landing a job within 192 days. 
   “While work remains to be done to improve the process, this is a significant improvement from the 469-day overall baseline established in January 2016,” he stated.
   McAleenan noted that during the past three years CBP has made about 800 new hires, with about 250 of those joining the agency last fiscal year. CBP’s budget for this fiscal year includes funding to hire an additional 320 officers.
   As of Feb. 3, CBP had 23,002 CBP officers of its estimated 60,000 total workforce at U.S. ports of entry, according to the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), which represents about 25,000 CBP officers. However, the union said the ports of entry are 1,145 officers short of the country’s fiscal year 2018 target of 24,147 and 2,516 short of the number that CBP’s own workload staffing model says needs to be hired. The NTEU also said CBP is short 721 agriculture specialists, according to the agency’s workload staffing model. 
   “The result is forced overtime shifts, multiple deployments away from home and low morale,” the union said in written testimony submitted to the House subcommittee. 
   NTEU said it supports the proposed Border and Port Security Act (H.R. 4940), which would authorize the annual hiring of 500 additional CBP officers, 100 agriculture specialists and additional Office of Field Operations staff until the agency’s staffing requirements are met.
   The union opposes the Trump administration’s proposal to increase user fees to pay for additional CBP officers. Instead, the NTEU urged lawmakers to provide up to $100 million in fiscal year 2019 direct appropriations to increase the agency’s staffing.

Chris Gillis

Located in the Washington, D.C. area, Chris Gillis primarily reports on regulatory and legislative topics that impact cross-border trade. He joined American Shipper in 1994, shortly after graduating from Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Md., with a degree in international business and economics.

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