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Travelers May See Excessive Wait Times with New U.S. Border Moves

As Trump Administration moves manpower to southern borders, U.S. flyers stand to suffer the consequences

Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, has joined five other aviation and travel industry associations in urging Senate leaders to support the a request for supplemental appropriations to support CBP officer staffing and overtime, including for operations at the nation’s airports.

As the White House seeks $4.5 billion for border operations in the southwest, the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agency is deploying an additional 186 CBP officers to assist Border Patrol agents to these sectors. The additional manpower comes from Northern border ports, seaports, and airports, according to a CBP spokesperson.

The letter, signed by Airlines for America, which represents American Airlines Group Inc, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines Co, Fedex Corp and others, joined major U.S. airport groups, the U.S. Travel Association, Global Business Travel Association and the International Air Transport Association, in requesting additional emergency funding due to the potential impact that shifting more officers from airports and other ports of entry will have on the travel industry.

“While understandable, a robbing Peter to pay Paul staffing paradigm is unsustainable. The traveling and shipping public should not be subjected to excessive wait times, and we need to avoid inflicting damage on commerce and the overall U.S. economy,” the letter said.

A report by Reuters pointed to Senate legislation backed by major U.S. airports and other business, industry and union groups earlier this year urging the hiring of at least 600 new CBP agents annually.

“Without emergency funding, we are very concerned that CBP’s budget is not adequate going into the busy summer travel season, starting with the Memorial Day weekend holiday rapidly approaching. CBP staffing levels already fall well short of the agency’s workload staffing model. With international travel increasing at a steady rate, lack of sufficient CBP officer staffing at airports due to temporary reassignment, compounded with lack of overtime funding, will certainly put considerable strain on CBP ports, harming both passengers and cargo throughput,” the letter stated.