Washington, D.C. – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today praised the overdue hiring of 170 new Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents at Southern Arizona border ports of entry to increase inspection capacity and reduce crossing times, a move that comes after four years of requests and legislative efforts by Grijalva to increase CBP staffing levels in Southern Arizona.
Under the terms of a recently announced Department of Homeland Security staffing initiative, 120 new staff will go to the two crossings in Nogales, while 25 each will be sent to Douglas and San Luis. The initiative was made public after Democratic and Republican House lawmakers sent a bipartisan letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on March 4. You can read that letter at http://1.usa.gov/1kDFUnY.
Grijalva has been asking the White House for more CBP staff in Southern Arizona for many years and introduced the Border Infrastructure and Jobs Act in 2011 and 2013 to create and fill new positions. A press release from June 2010 – the same month he sent a letter to President Obama on the issue – highlighted his efforts at the administration level:
Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today strongly questioned President Obama’s decision not to fully fund the needs of federal Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) offices in his recent $399 million supplemental budget request for the Department of Homeland Security. The request, meant to support increased CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operations along the Southwest border, includes only $6.5 million to fund 30 new CBP customs officers at ports of entry across the nation’s border with Mexico. [. . .]
Obama’s request for only 30 new port of entry agents will not come close to addressing those needs, Grijalva said after the request was announced.
“I’m dismayed that 1,200 National Guard troops will be sent to the border without any kind of serious structural upgrade to the long-term CBP operations in the region,” Grijalva said. “Making our border truly secure from smuggling and other criminal activities will require customs inspection manpower levels that we’re well short of at this point, and the president had a chance to fix that with this request. The fact that he didn’t do so is very disappointing.”
Grijalva said he supports the proposed budget from House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, which includes $208.4 million for 1,200 additional Border Patrol agents deployed between the ports of entry along the border and $136 million to add 500 additional officers at ports of entry.
While the recently announced staffing increase is short of Grijalva’s preference for 500 additional staff, the 170 new positions will greatly improve commerce and quality of life along the border, he said.
“Investing in ports of entry means more goods and services moving across, more security where it’s needed, and more opportunity to turn the border into an even bigger economic engine,” Grijalva said. “The people I represent who live along the border are tired of drones, law enforcement overkill, and a siege mentality pushed by anti-immigrant activists. It’s time to start living in the real world again. This focus on serious economic needs instead of cheap talking points is a great step forward, and I hope it’s a sign of things to come.”
Anyone interested in the history of Grijalva’s requests for more CBP staff can learn more here, here, here, here and here. You can learn more about the details of the new hires at http://bit.ly/1q8dBzs.