Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in the United States perform a critical role that is being undermined because of a serious shortage in their ranks.

These men and women are the official guardians of our borders, charged with protecting our citizens against terrorists and “fostering our Nation’s economic security through lawful international trade and travel.” They process all of the freight shipped from overseas.

Yet staffing shortages have become a big issue, not only with the CBP officers themselves — who complain about understaffing and excessive overtime — but also among a vocal cross-section of Republicans and Democrats in Congress who have pressured the agency to speed up their hiring process. Add ICAT Logistics Detroit’s support for swiftly resolving this issue.

During the past two decades we’ve learned how important it is to work with seasoned, well-trained CBP officers. In every aspect of our business at ICAT Logistics Detroit, we strive to develop close relationships. It is no different with the officers guarding our borders. They have an important mission and they do it more efficiently when they are well-staffed, well-trained and happy in their jobs. The hiring shortage is magnified by a high turnover among the officers.

CBP was funded in 2014 to hire an additional 2,000 officers to ease overtime and fill empty positions around the country. Of those, 700 positions remain open. At a recent House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on homeland security, Rep. John Carter (R-Tex.) said, “CBP’s hiring problems have to be fixed.” Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) said she and Carter are working together to “push CBP to hire the rest of the officers as quickly as possible.”

Consider these statistics. Besides processing an average 1,048,632 passengers and pedestrians per day, CBP officers also process 72,179 truck, rail and sea containers and another 282,252 privately-owned vehicles. They seize 9,435 pounds of illegal drugs, $3.7 million worth of products with Intellectual Property Rights violations and identify 600 individuals with suspected national security concerns.

We expect and truly need officers who are at their best each day on the job. CBP is ranked 314th out of 320 subcomponents on the Partnership for Public Service’s “Best Places to Work” survey.

ICAT Logistics Detroit sees first-hand the impact of the CBP officer shortage in our home region. Detroit is a training-hub for CBP because we have every mode of freight transportation at our border — ships, rail, trucks, pipelines, bridges, tunnels. We have seen and felt the impact of understaffing on trade.

We praise the efforts of CBP officers who are doing their best in a difficult situation and we hope the non-partisan pressure works to quickly fill the ranks with more of the dedicated officers who are willing to watch our borders and our goods and keep us safe.

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