McSally and Sinema raise concerns over Customs officers being removed from ports of entry

Arizona Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D) and Martha McSally (R) teamed up Tuesday to oppose the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency’s (CBP) decision to remove officers from Arizona’s ports of entry.

The CBP’s decision to transfer the personnel out of Arizona ports came after the agency saw its highest total number of daily apprehensions and encounters in over a decade twice in one week.

“We understand the challenges that CBP faces with the recent influx of migrants to our border, and we both look forward to working with you to improve border security,” the senators wrote in a letter. “However, reducing port staffing harms security and our economy…Different options must be explored.”

The senators said the decision will harm the state’s ability to process trade and travel while significantly increasing port of entry wait times and encouraging illegal goods to enter the country.

“The cross-border commerce is so important for Arizona’s economy. We’ve got about 200,000 jobs that are related to cross-border commerce,” McSally said after a roundtable with CBP Monday morning. “It’s my view that we’ve got to keep the legitimate trade and travel and cross-border commerce happening at the ports of entry, but we also need to secure our border and address this crisis.”

Data released earlier this month shows that Arizona’s trade with Mexico was more than $16 billion in 2018, a 7.7 percent increase from the previous year. The long wait times are expected to have a negative impact on the import of produce and other goods.

The senators also expressed concern with how the CBP’s decision would affect the safety of the country, as CBP officers at the ports help prevent narcotics and other illegal goods from entering the country.

Last year, 86 percent of hard narcotics seized by CBP were seized at ports of entry. In the Southwest, it was 82 percent.

The CBP’s announcement also comes amid President Donald Trump’s threat to shut down the U.S.-Mexico border altogether.

Morgan Carr

Emily Richardson

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