Members of Congress Urge DHS to Address CBP Maritime Needs
Last week, the Ports Opportunity, Renewal, Trade, and Security (PORTS) Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson urging him to allocate more resources to address Customs and Border Protection (CBP) staffing shortages at United States seaports.
Forty-seven members of Congress signed the letter, led by Representatives J. Randy Forbes (R-Virginia) and Kathy Castor (D-Florida), and PORTS Caucus co-chairs Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Janice Hahn (D-California).
Maritime CBP funding is a top priority for the American Association of Port Authorities, and AAPA worked closely with the PORTS Caucus on the outreach for the letter.
The letter cited a disproportionate share of resources for maritime-related CBP activities. “In fiscal year 2015,” the letter stated, “when CBP was funded to hire 2,000 staff, fewer than 20 officers were assigned to seaports. We cannot let this disproportionate approach to security continue. Our nation’s seaports handle more than 11 million maritime containers and over 11 million international passengers each year. Annual increases in volume and periodic surges in ship traffic have continually led to repeated dockside delays in inspecting and clearing cargo. This, paired with a muted response from the department, creates a ripple effect throughout our economy and supply chain.”
AAPA testified at a joint hearing titled, An Examination of the Maritime Nuclear Smuggling Threat and Other Port Security and Smuggling Risks in the U.S. The hearing was held by the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation and the Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security.
David Espie, security director for the Port of Baltimore testified on behalf of AAPA.
Safe Ports’ Strategies for Success