Rep. Cuellar: 165 of 300 CBP officers back to respective ports

TSA to send up to 400 personnel to help with humanitarian efforts at border

U.S Rep., Henry Cuellar holds a news conference outside the Historical La Lomita Chapel on Friday, March, 22, 2019 in Mission. (Delcia Lopez | dlopez@themonitor.com)

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, said 165 of the 300 U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers who were re-assigned from their Laredo field office to help with humanitarian efforts at the U.S.-Mexico border have returned to their home ports, according to a news release.

More than 500 CBP officers from the southwest border sector, 300 from South Texas ports of entry, were sent in April to different detention facilities along the U.S.-Mexico border to help U.S. Border Patrol agents deal with large groups of asylum seekers from Central America.

At the time, CBP officials assured Cuellar that the officers would be replaced by CBP officers from ports around the country and that local CBP officers would return to their home ports, the release stated.

To date, 165 of the 300 CBP officers who were re-assigned from the Laredo Field Office have returned to their home ports.

“America’s economic competitiveness is reliant upon our interconnected supply chains. Delays at the border have had a significant impact,” Cuellar said.

In early April, a chief policy officer with the United States Chamber of Commerce, said U.S. trade with Mexico exceeds $1.7 billion daily.

In 2018, trade between the United States and Mexico exceeded $611.5 billion. Since 86% of Mexican imports enter the U.S. by land (6.3 million trucks and 500,000 rail containers), the re-assignment of South Texas CBP officers has caused major disruption to the flow of commerce through our southern border ports of entry, the release stated.

Cuellar said the Transportation Security Administration’s announcement Wednesday that they planned on temporarily re-assign 175 law enforcement officials and as many as 400 personnel from security operations to assist in the DHS response to the migration crisis at the southern border, is a short-term fix, and could lead to security concerns, among other issues.

The release goes on to add that none of the TSA security officers will be from airport security checkpoints.

“We cannot continue to rely on short term fixes for the record number of people arriving at the southern border. I am pleased that many of the CBP officers are returning to their homes ports but deploying TSA personnel will cause security concerns and significant travel delays during the busy summer months,” Cuellar said in the prepared statement.

“I would like to thank Acting U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, Acting CBP Commissioner John Sanders, and Director, Field Operations for Laredo Field Office David Higgerson for working with me to return the CBP officers back to their home ports.”