NPT DC: Reyes introduced $5 billion border security/trade bill
News release from the office of U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes.
REYES INTRODUCES BILL TO FUND $5 BILLION TO IMPROVE SECURITY AT BORDER CHECKPOINTS
PORTS Act would add 5000 CBP agents to improve border inspections
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Silvestre Reyes (TX-16) has introduced legislation to dramatically increase funding and staffing levels at America’s land ports of entry to help combat the illegal transport of drugs, money, and weapons between the United States and Mexico and reduce excessive bridge wait times. The Putting Our Resources Toward Security (PORTS) Act would provide $5 billion through 2014 to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), to repair and modernize infrastructure all U.S. land ports of entry, and would also provide funding for an additional 5000 Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents to improve inspections and reduce traffic congestion. Congressman Reyes’ legislation has already drawn the support of 29 other Members of Congress.
“Inadequate staffing and outdated infrastructure at our land ports of entry are making America less safe,” Congressman Reyes said, whose district of El Paso, Texas is on the U.S.-Mexico border and includes four international ports of entry. “We need to provide our federal law enforcement agencies with the tools and resources they need to effectively combat the flow of drugs, money, and weapons that are illegally transported between the United States and Mexico. This legislation will make our border more secure, enhance the flow of trade and commerce, and reduce excessive bridge wait times.”
Congressman Reyes’ bill, the PORTS Act, will:
– provide for 5,000 additional Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers, allowing for an increase in total officers by approximately 30 percent over five years.
– provide for 350 additional support personnel and 1,200 agriculture specialists at CBP, which will help ensure officers will not be pulled away from inspection duties to perform specialized or administrative work.
– authorize $5 billion over five years for the General Services Administration (GSA) to address infrastructure deficiencies at our land ports of entry. GSA and CBP will be required to work together to prioritize repair work.
Last year, at the request of Congressman Reyes, the House Committee on Homeland Security held a field hearing in El Paso on ports of entry security entitled “Ensuring Homeland Security While Facilitating Legitimate Travel: The Challenge at America’s Ports of Entry,” and witnesses discussed the need for increased funding for CBP and GSA.
“Our ports of entry are severely understaffed, provided with insufficient infrastructure, and yet officers are continually asked to do more with less,” said Kathleen Campbell Walker, former National President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, who testified at the hearing in El Paso. “We are beyond the breaking point at our ports of entry along our land borders. Congressman Reyes’ bill starts us on the path to address these severe staffing and infrastructure deficiencies…”