Budget cuts will hurt border security, trade

I am greatly concerned that Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a critical component in providing our nation’s security, will be one of the federal agencies hit hardest because of the failure of Congress to avoid the severe budget cuts called for under sequestration.

The CBP has dual vital missions. One is frontline security at ports of entry, including the Port of Buffalo; the other is facilitating the trade so important to our economy. Both will be compromised by sequestration.

Because of sequestration, the CBP has said it likely will furlough employees for up to 14 days. Reducing an already-strained workforce will cause delays in the processing of passengers and commercial traffic, as well as increased risk of contraband, criminals and potential terrorists entering the country. Not to mention, the impact on the employees who are facing nearly three weeks of lost pay.

As president of National Treasury Employees Union Chapter 154 representing CBP employees in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, I find it frustrating that federal employees are among the first to be hit by sequestration’s severe budget cuts despite having already contributed more to deficit reduction and economic recovery than any other group – $103 billion from a pay freeze and higher pension contributions. For the good of the country, sequestration should be canceled and replaced by balanced deficit reduction measures.

Paul Kwiatkowski