Washington, D.C. — Congresswoman Elise Stefanik and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security Rep. John Katko (NY-24) introduced legislation to provide behavioral health support to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel who are bearing the brunt of the Biden administration’s crisis along the Southwest border.
Supported by the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC), the CBP Behavioral Health Act would provide much-needed support for the men and women who work to keep our nation safe and borders secure by expanding their access to behavioral health resources.
“I am proud to work to ensure our brave border patrol agents have the mental health support they deserve,” Stefanik said. “Joe Biden’s failure to uphold the laws at our southern border has unfairly taken its toll on our brave border patrol agents. Many hardworking border patrol agents in my district, who protect our Northern Border, have been forced in no-notice deployments to fight Joe Biden’s crisis on the southern border. This tears apart families and is harmful to morale. Instead of rewarding them for their service, Joe Biden is shamefully doubling down on his failed policies and exacerbating this border crisis. In the face of this crisis, I am proud to stand up for our border patrol agents and ensure they have the resources, support, and access to care they deserve. I appreciate Ranking Member Katko’s leadership on behalf of our agents.”
“Our nation’s Border Patrol agents and CBP personnel are heroes,” Katko said. “However, we are losing far too many to the impacts of the untenable working environment they are forced to operate in as a result of the Biden Administration’s failed policies and refusal to enforce the rule of law. As a result of these unprecedented circumstances, Border Patrol agents and CBP personnel have been forced to contend with the traumatic human toll of the border crisis on a daily basis, all while facing unfounded attacks and vilification from within the administration. Enough is enough. If the Biden administration and DHS won’t step up to provide the support and care CBP personnel deserve, then House Republicans will. I thank Conference Chair Stefanik for joining me in this essential effort.”
“The National Border Patrol Council is proud to endorse the CBP Behavioral Health Act and we are grateful for the leadership and steadfast support from Ranking Member Katko and Representative Stefanik on these truly life and death issues,” said Hector Garza, Vice President, National Border Patrol Council (NBPC). “For too long, the law enforcement community including the Border Patrol has failed to recognize and properly respond to the immense mental and emotional burden felt by frontline employees just from doing their job. The scenes we experience on a daily basis patrolling the border are unimaginable to most Americans and have become dramatically worse and more frequent over the past two years. The time has come for us to not only tackle the security and humanitarian disaster on our southern border but to also address the mental health of our frontline agents and employees. The introduction of this legislation represents tremendous progress in our quest to increase awareness and destigmatize issues related to mental health and we will not rest until each and every employee who needs help, gets it.”
"On behalf of our New York based Local, we sincerely appreciate Congresswoman Stefanik's leadership on this critically important bill. Without this much needed support, we will continue to see the rate of suicides amongst our brothers and sisters skyrocket. Something needs to be done now before we lose even more of our fellow agents and this legislation is a crucial step towards solving these issues," said Brandon Budlong, President, Local 2724, National Border Patrol Council (NBPC).
The CBP Behavioral Health Act would:
- Require CBP to hire behavioral health providers and create a comprehensive behavioral health program that enables CBP personnel to seek the resources they need to continue to protect the United States.
- Establish a Behavioral Health Readiness Office within CBP and at all initial entry training sites. Training will include basic behavioral health awareness to enhance understanding of and overcome the stigma of mental health.
- Require the CBP Commissioner make every effort to provide alternative employment opportunities to CBP personnel who are determined to be permanently unable to fulfill assigned duties due to behavioral health concerns. Additionally, the bill would require the CBP Commissioner to establish an appeals process for individuals who fall under this determination.
- Create robust privacy policies to protect the privacy of CBP personnel when they utilize these behavioral health resources.
View the CBP Behavioral Health Act here.