Sinema Secures Two of Her Bipartisan Bills Boosting Border Security Staff & Resources in Annual Defense Legislation

Jul 28, 2023

Senator’s bipartisan bills help Border Patrol Agents and CBP Ports Officers secure the border and stop the trafficking of drugs

WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema – Chair of the Border Management Subcommittee – successfully included two of her bipartisan bills boosting border security staffing levels and resources in the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
Sinema’s bipartisan Border Patrol Enhancement Act – cosponsored by fellow Arizona Senator Mark Kelly – improves Border Patrol agent overtime pay, and her bipartisan Securing America’s Ports of Entry Act increases staffing at ports of entry.
“A secure border relies on a strong workforce. Once our bills become law, our men and women in green and blue can better crack down on drug trafficking, human smuggling, and other dangerous crimes to keep Arizonans safe and secure, while protecting our cross-border economy,” said Sinema, Chair of the Senate Border Management Subcommittee.
“The Border Patrol Enhancement Act will ensure that border patrol agents have the support, resources, and pay they deserve,”
said Kelly. “Strengthening our border security is a priority I’ve been working on since I was elected to Congress, and our bill passing the Senate is an important step toward that goal.”
“I want to thank Senator Sinema and Lankford for moving this legislation. The most important element in securing our border is manpower. Over the last two years we have had well over 1.2 million people walk into this country without being apprehended because we simply did not have the manpower to arrest them. To put this in perspective, the number of illegal immigrants who got away is twice the population of Tucson and indicative of the situation we are in right now. If we cannot retain Border Patrol Agents, we will never secure our border. On behalf of Border Patrol agents nationwide, I want to express my sincere gratitude to Senators Sinema and Lankford for their hard work on this issue,” said Brandon Judd, President of the National Border Patrol Council.
“Anyone who works at or uses a port of entry for trade and travel understands the need to increase staffing levels of Customs and Border Protection Officers. Our air, land and sea ports are in desperate need of more employees to reduce wait times for international travelers and cargo shippers, improve the interdiction of illegal drugs and illicit goods, and handle the processing of migrants seeking asylum. NTEU appreciates the efforts of Sens. Peters, Lankford, Cornyn, Scott, Sinema, and Rosen for their persistence in getting the Securing America’s Ports of Entry Act added to the Senate’s National Defense Authorization Act, and our union will continue to push for the provision to be included in the final bill,” said Tony Reardon, National President of the National Treasury Employees Union.
Sinema and Kelly’s bipartisan Border Patrol Enhancement Act improves the Border Patrol workforce by setting a staffing level for the Border Patrol based on the needs outlined in a Personnel Requirements Determination Model, and making sure that Border Patrol agents receive fair pay for scheduled overtime work.
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.
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 also requires 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.