WASHINGTON – As the U.S. Senate continues a debate on immigration and border security, Senator Claire McCaskill today introduced an amendment to strengthen our borders and target drug trafficking in our most high-traffic border areas. The amendment mirrors a bill McCaskill introduced in the Senate earlier this year.
McCaskill’s amendment requires U.S. Customs and Border Protection to hire additional officers at ports of entry, which are currently short-staffed by over 3,600 officers. Ports of entry are where the majority of illegal drugs enter the United States.
“As I work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find common ground for an immigration bill, I think this is one element we can all agree on—we need to do more to prevent drug trafficking at our ports of entry,” McCaskill said. “My amendment will ensure that Customs and Border Protection has the resources it needs to block illegal opioids from entering the country and making their way to Missouri.”
The amendment will require Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to hire at least 500 additional CBP Officers per year until they have met their staffing needs based on internal CBP staffing analysis that takes into account traffic flows, threat assessments and other data. According to CBP’s current analysis, the agency needs approximately 3,600 more CBP Officers at ports of entry. CBP Officers play a critical role in stopping illegal smuggling at ports of entry, inspection points for people and shipments entering the country. McCaskill heard firsthand from law enforcement officers about the need for filling staffing shortages at ports of entry—which is what her bill will do—when she toured the U.S.-Mexico border last year.
McCaskill has served on the Homeland Security Committee since joining the Senate, becoming the top-ranking Democrat last year, where she has prioritized protecting Missourians and all Americans from national security threats. McCaskill’s bill to reauthorize the Department of Homeland Security’s program that targets transnational criminal organizations on the border and at U.S. ports in order to combat drug and weapons trafficking and other crimes was approved by the Committee last year. McCaskill previously joined Republican Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson to request details about what Customs and Border Protection is doing to stop illegal opioids from being smuggled into the country.