Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) introduced bipartisan legislation to increase staffing and improve infrastructure at ports of entry. The bill, the Emergency Port of Entry Personnel and Infrastructure Funding Act, directs the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to hire, train, and assign 5,000 new CBP officers and 350 support personnel at ports of entry, and authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to make improvements at existing ports of entry and construct new ports of entry on our southern and northern borders. The full text of the bill is here.
“In the North Country, our economy depends on commerce with our Canadian neighbors, and improving border crossing will mean easier access and more tourism in our region,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “I am pleased to introduce this bipartisan legislation with another Member who understands how critical our ports of entry are for our economy, tourism and our national security. This legislation will make it easier and safer to travel throughout our region.”
“Our ports of entry facilitate trade and travel that is connected to jobs all across Texas and the country,” O’Rourke said. “However, severe staffing shortages and outdated infrastructure are creating long wait times for visitors and lost economic growth for our state. At a time when some want to spend money building walls and deploying the National Guard to the border, we should be focused on increasing staffing and improving infrastructure at our ports of entry – that’s a better answer for our security, for travelers, and for our economy. I’m grateful to partner on this bill with Rep. Stefanik, who has shown really impressive leadership on efforts to keep our country safe as Chair of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities.”
Summary of the Emergency Port of Entry Personnel and Infrastructure Funding Act:
- Authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to make improvements at current land ports of entry and construct new ports on the northern and southern border.
- Directs the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to hire, train, and assign 5,000 additional CBP officers and 350 support personnel at land border crossings over six years, with a deadline of September 30, 2023.
- Requires DHS to provide all CBP officers with secure communications equipment to streamline communications between ports of entry and inspection stations, and with other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.
- Establishes a federal grant program to enable state and local law enforcement on the Southern border to purchase identification and detection equipment as well as mobile, hand-held 2 way communication devices.
- Authorizes $6 billion over six years to carry out staffing increases and infrastructure improvements.
- Includes an offsetting provision directing OMB to rescind appropriated discretionary funds equal to any new outlays.