U.S. Rep. McSally Leads Hearing on Border Infrastructure, Manning Needs
CBP: “We Recognize (Douglas) as One of the Top Infrastructure Needs We Have”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Martha McSally today led a hearing as the Chairwoman of the Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee on inadequate staffing levels and outdated infrastructure at our border ports of entry. During the hearing, in response to questioning from Rep. McSally, a top Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official confirmed the Douglas Port of Entry is a top infrastructure priority for the Administration and that it would be included in CBP’s five-year infrastructure plan.
“As you know, the Douglas Port of Entry has needed modernization for many years,” Rep. McSally said. “From our perspective it has tremendous shortfalls and limitations to it. We have struggled to find the financing. Where is the Douglas Port of Entry on the prioritization list?”
“So Douglas will be in the upcoming (five year) plan. We recognize it as one of the top infrastructure needs we have,” said Eugene Schied, Acting Executive Assistant Commissioner for CBP’s Office of Enterprise Services. “As you have mentioned, the facility is very inadequate. It’s old. It fails on multiple accounts to be the kind of facility we want to provide. And in the upcoming five year plan, I expect Douglas will be a part of, one of the projects that we seek funding for. It’s one of our higher priorities.”
The questioning follows Rep. McSally’s continued efforts to upgrade and modernize the Douglas Port of Entry. Last June, Rep. McSally called upon CBP Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske to explain the next steps needed to advance a proposed expansion of the Douglas Port of Entry. She also engaged top Administration officials last November on the urgent need for a new port of entry in Douglas.
Rep. McSally also questioned witnesses today on barriers to hiring that has produced dire staffing shortages at border ports of entry.
“At the current hiring rate, it takes almost 100-150 applicants to go through the process just to hire one agent or officer. This means CBP needs to have hundreds of thousands of people apply just to meet our current needs,” Rep. McSally said in her opening statement.
In October 2015, President Barack Obama signed into law Rep. McSally’s bill, the Border Jobs for Veterans Act, legislation to fast-track veterans for jobs along the border. The law has been welcomed by Administration officials as an important provision to help meet staffing needs.
“Through the Border Jobs for Veterans Act, we are partnering with the Department of Defense to expedite the onboarding of veterans and separating service members into frontline positions,” said Linda Jacksta, CBP’s Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Human Resources Management. “This is groundbreaking work that has the potential to be a game changer for CBP.”
To watch the full hearing, click HERE.