Homeland Security Committee Approves Two Sinema-Led Bills Strengthening Border Security by Boosting Staffing Levels, Resources

Jul 27, 2023

Senators’ bipartisan bills help CBP stop the trafficking of drugs & ensure Border Patrol can better recruit & retain agents

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs approved Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s Border Patrol Enhancement Act – bipartisan legislation improving Border Patrol agent overtime pay – and her Securing America’s Ports of Entry Act – bipartisan legislation increasing staffing at ports of entry.
“A secure border relies on a strong Border Patrol and CBP workforce. My bipartisan bills increase staffing levels and resources so that our agents can crack down on drug smuggling, human tracking, and other dangerous crimes to keep Arizonans safe and secure,” said Sinema, Chair of the Senate Border Management Subcommittee.
The Senator’s bipartisan Border Patrol Enhancement Act improves Border Patrol staffing by setting a staffing level for Border Patrol based on the needs outlined in a Personnel Requirements Determination Model, and making sure that Border Patrol agents receive fair overtime pay for scheduled overtime work.
The Securing America’s Ports of Entry Act addresses CBP Office of Field Operations (OFO) staffing shortages on the Southwest border by authorizing CBP OFO to hire at least 600 CBP officers every year for five years. The bill directs the Government Accountability Office to conduct a review of CBP hiring practices if the agency is unable to meet this hiring minimum.
Sinema’s legislation requires the CBP to report on infrastructure needs at ports of entry to improve drug interdiction capabilities and protect officers’ safety. The bipartisan legislation also requires reporting on the agency’s increasing reliance on reimbursable service agreements and temporary duty assignments to cover its system-wide staffing shortfalls.
The Arizona’s Border Patrol sectors have had recruiting and retention problems for years, and increasing migrant encounters diverts Border Patrol agents from their core duties and towards migrant processing. Temporary duty assignments from other sectors help the Tucson and Yuma Sectors maintain appropriate staffing, but when additional sectors are overwhelmed by migrant arrivals, it is not possible to sufficiently staff all sectors.
As Chair of the Border Management Subcommittee, Sinema has been leading bipartisan tours to Arizona so colleagues from non-border states can see what Arizona border communities experience every day in the interest of delivering lasting solutions to the ongoing crisis.