WASHINGTON (GrayDC) Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX) received confirmation on Wednesday U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Deputy Commission Robert E. Perez will return some CBP officers back to Laredo. They were reassigned to help with the influx of migrants crossing into the U.S. from the border with Mexico. He said the lines at the bridges are just too long because they are short staffed.
“You’re affecting trade at the number one port of entry, and two tourism. Two years ago, we had 19 million Mexicans come over to spend money at our hotels, restaurants, malls and all that. That’s over $20 billion," said the Congressman.
Cuellar had expressed his concerns to former CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan over the weekend about the agency’s decision to reassign 750 CBP officers from South Texas Ports of Entry to the Border Patrol Sectors.
Starting this weekend, Cuellar said 100 officers will come in from other field offices parts of country to the border area and then 100 CBP officers will be returned back to the Ports of Entry in Laredo. The next weekend, 125 additional officers will come in from other field offices to the border sections.
“So, there are overtime issues they can look at, cap issues that they can look at, bring in the recently retired individuals, bring them in, Coast guard can come in and help out, so other FEMA worker, private contractors," Cuellar said about finding other individuals to free up border agents.
He said the border agents should be returned to Laredo to address the increased wait times on the bridges and make sure trade and travel are efficient.
“Who do you need to do sandwiches, change diapers, transport people around or be on a computer? Do you need those trained professionals that do cargo inspection or tourism? No, because then you’re creating another situation at the ports of entry," said Cuellar.
Cuellar said he is confident in this start to a solution, but he said he will be following up with CBP for a further solution to the reassignments next week.