September 26, 2017
National Treasury Employees Union
NTEU Calls for More Hiring to Address CBP Preclearance Expansion
Washington, D.C – Staffing shortages at the nation’s ports of entry should be addressed before Customs and Border Protection (CBP) opens new preclearance sites at international airports, National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) President Tony Reardon told Congress Tuesday.
CBP has 1,400 CBP Officer vacancies and needs an additional 2,100 Officers and 631 Agriculture Specialists, according to current workload models, and cannot afford to divert Officers to expand preclearance operations, Reardon said in testimony submitted to the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation and Protective Security.
“NTEU recognizes the security benefits of preclearance including preventing high-risk travelers from boarding aircraft bound for the U.S. and reduced wait times for passenger processing at the busiest U.S. international airports,” Reardon wrote. “Nonetheless, NTEU has serious concerns about the impact of preclearance expansion on the already critical staffing shortages at the nation’s ports of entry.”
NTEU represents about 25,000 CBP employees at the nation’s 328 land, sea and airports, including 600 personnel at 15 preclearance sites in Ireland, the Caribbean, Canada and the United Arab Emirates.
The Department of Homeland Security is working to increase the number of foreign passengers who travel through preclearance from 15 percent to 33 percent by 2024, and some new preclearance operations could be open by 2019.
Reardon has testified several times about the harm caused by the CBP staffing shortage, such as long delays in travel and cargo lanes, which impedes economic activity. Additionally, involuntary overtime and involuntary work assignments far from home negatively impact frontline federal employees.
Finally, NTEU is concerned about the lack of funding proposed for additional CBP personnel in fiscal year 2018.
“If Congress is serious about improving aviation security around the globe, there is an opportunity to address the justified and documented need to fund additional CBP staffing at the ports in the omnibus bill that will be considered later this year,” Reardon wrote. “On behalf of the men and women represented by NTEU at the nation’s ports of entry, I urge you to authorize and fund them at least to the levels that BPAs and ICE agents are funded in the recently approved FY 18 House appropriations bill.”
NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 31 federal agencies and departments.