A bipartisan Senate bill (S-1004) would authorize a hiring surge at Customs and Border Protection to increase the number of officers by 600 each year until the agency closes its staffing shortfall.
Sponsors said that CBP currently has 23,465 officers on board even though the workforce staffing models have indicated a need for 27,187. In addition to hiring more officers, the bill also would authorize additional hiring of mission support staff and technicians to perform non-law enforcement support functions, allowing officers to focus more on their core enforcement duties.
Introduction of the bill comes as CBP’s parent, DHS, authorized voluntary reassignments of as many as 2,000 officers to meet demand on the southwest border. “If these reassignments continue, they could lead to staffing shortages at other critical land ports of entry, medium & small airports and seaports on the Southern and Northern borders. Reduced personnel numbers at other ports could threaten CBP’s capacity to carry out critical immigration, trade and health related inspections and to interdict illegal drugs shipments,” the sponsors said in a statement.
CBP has struggled for years to remain fully staffed due to factors such as a lengthy and complex hiring process that can dissuade applicants and the often difficult and remote nature of the work.