Cuellar: 1,200 new CBP officers included in appropriation

Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX28) speaks to US Border Patrol agents and their families before awarding 9 US Border Patrol agents with the Congressional Certificates of Recognition for their acts of bravery on the job during a ceremony at the McAllen Border Patrol Station June 22, 2015 in McAllen. photo by joel martinez/jmartinez@themonitor.com

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, announced in a statement Wednesday that he helped secure funding for several elements that would make ports of entry more efficient for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Secured through the fiscal year 2019 appropriations package, the elements include non-intrusive imaging equipment, additional canine teams and 600 new CBP officers.

In addition to hiring more officers, Cuellar said the language he secured in the appropriations package will “encourage” CBP to hire an additional 600 officers, whose salaries will be paid for with customs fees, with the potential of yielding 1,200 new officers.

“Deploying these and additional resources at our ports of entry will help CBP combat the entry of illicit goods, narcotics and human smuggling into the country,” Cuellar said in the release. “It will also increase security and ensure the smoother, faster flow of legitimate trade and travel.”

Cuellar, who has been a staunch advocate for hiring more port officers, said CBP’s dual mission of protecting the borders and facilitating legitimate trade and travel is not only a critical component of national security, but also of the nation’s economic prosperity.

“In FY2017, CBP processed $2.39 trillion in imports, equating to 33.2 million entries and more than 28.5 million imported cargo containers at 328 U.S. POEs,” he said.

For years, the congressman said, he has made it a top priority to ensure that CBP has the capability and capacity to improve the efficiency of legitimate trade and travel at ports of entry, while maintaining the highest standards of security.

“My district is home to the largest inland port in the U.S., conducting over 60 percent of all U.S.-Mexico trade. Increasing the number of trade enforcement personnel and improving technology will help streamline international commerce, eliminate costly bottlenecks and increase trade as well as security for cities along the border, greatly benefiting the local and national economy,” the congressman said.

Cuellar, who is set to vote against the president’s national emergency declaration Thursday, said it is imperative to help facilitate CBP’s efforts in processing the more than one million passengers and pedestrians who cross into the U.S. every day.