January 31, 2018 / Modified jan 31, 2018 10:03 a.m.

Union Pres: Exhaustion, Understaffing Persist at Ports of Entry

Routine overtime and transfers take place to staff Arizona ports.

nogales port of entry hero Looking toward Mexico at a border crossing in Nogales. (PHOTO: AZPM Staff)

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The Trump administration is focused on building a wall along parts of the U.S.-Mexico border, but in the meantime, the ports of entry continue to be short-staffed.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers are exhausted, their union president said. And the agency is still 3,700 people shy of being fully staffed.

Anthony Reardon is president of the National Treasury Employees Union.

"I’ve heard stories where people fall asleep at stoplights or fall asleep getting into their car before even driving away," he said.

The problem is pervasive enough that CBP recently moved nearly 200 officers from airports throughout the country to Arizona on temporary-duty assignments, he said.

CBP spokesman Carlos Diaz sent this statement:

Temporary duty assignments are not uncommon and could be for a variety of reasons, to include development opportunities, training needs, or seasonal fluctuations. These assignments are beneficial to both the temporary duty location and the permanent duty location as personnel return to their home ports with experience in a wider diversity of CBP operations and enhanced decision making skills. While we would not be able to provide any specific details, any resources to support an assignment of personnel from MCO to any other CBP location will be complemented by necessary support resources to ensure there is no impact to the local port.

MCO is the Orlando Airport; a group of congressional members recently balked at news that 10 CBP officers had been pulled from that airport to staff ports in Arizona.

The agency is still trying to recruit agents to come to Arizona to work.

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