Florida lawmakers call for 500 more Customs officers

Apr 26 • 195 Views • View Comments

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Additional officers would create jobs, cut wait
times for international travelers arriving in state

Florida lawmakers today called on Congress to provide the funding needed to hire an additional 500 Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers next year to help address staffing shortages at many of Florida’s airports and seaports.

The lawmakers’ request came in a letter – led by U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) – and sent to the top Democrat and Republican members of the House and Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittees.

“The Joint Economic Committee has found that while the volume of commerce crossing our borders has more than tripled in the past 25 years, CBP staffing has not kept pace with demand,” the lawmakers wrote. “Long wait times and delayed processing of goods discourage travel and create unnecessary barriers to trade, undermining economic activity in the United States. CBP estimates show that hiring an additional 500 CBP officers at ports of entry would increase annual economic activity by $1 billion and result in an additional 16,600 jobs per year.”

CBP officers are charged with enforcing U.S. customs, immigration and agriculture laws at air, land and sea ports across the country. They are separate from CBP Border Patrol agents who patrol the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada borders to prevent illegal entry into the country.

Officials at many of Florida’s airports and seaports have, for years, raised concerns over the shortage of CBP officers in Florida, which they say often causes frustratingly long wait times for international travelers arriving in the state – discouraging some from ever returning.

CBP, itself, admits it needs to hire an additional 2,516 CBP officers to operate at full capacity. Congress approved $7.6 million for the agency to hire an additional 328 CBP officers earlier this year. Florida lawmakers want the agency to hire another 500 officers next year.

In addition to Nelson and Rubio, the letter was signed by U.S. Reps. Reps. Charlie Christ (D-FL), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Val Demings (D-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Al Lawson (D-FL), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Tom Rooney (R-FL), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Dennis Ross (R-FL), Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) and Frederica Wilson (D-FL).

A PDF copy of the letter is available here.

 

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