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Call to Fix U.S. Ports Border Protection Staff Shortfall

Customs and border protection officers

By MarEx 2016-07-05 20:30:33

The U.S. House Ports Opportunity, Renewal, Trade, and Security (PORTS) Caucus has sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson urging him to allocate more resources to address customs and border protection staffing shortages at U.S. seaports. 

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) has highlighted the letter which was signed by 47 Members of Congress led by Representatives J. Randy Forbes (R-VA) and Kathy Castor (D-FL), PORTS Caucus Chairmen Ted Poe (R-TX) and Janice Hahn (D-CA). 

Maritime customs and border protection funding is a top AAPA priority, and AAPA has worked closely with the PORTS Caucus on the issue. The letter cites a disproportionate share of resources for maritime-related customs and border protection activities:

“In Fiscal Year 2015, when Customs and Border Protection was funded to hire 2,000 staff, fewer than 20 officers were assigned to seaports. We cannot let this disproportionate approach to security continue. Our nation’s seaports handle more than 11 million maritime containers and over 11 million international passengers each year. Annual increases in volume and periodic surges in ship traffic have continually led to repeated dock-side delays in inspecting and clearing cargo. This, paired with a muted response from the Department, creates a ripple effect throughout our economy and supply chain.”

Nuclear smuggling is one security concern for AAPA. This week, David Espie, Security Director for the Port of Baltimore, will testify on behalf of AAPA at a joint hearing titled, An Examination of the Maritime Nuclear Smuggling Threat and Other Port Security and Smuggling Risks in the U.S. The hearing will be held by the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation and the Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security.

The letter is available here.