The U.S. Travel Association urged Customs and Border Protection (CBP) not to understaff U.S. airports as the agency reassigns agents to the Mexican border, amid reports of soaring wait times at international arrival halls.

"In pursuing its objectives on the southern border, we urge the administration to keep other entry points appropriately staffed and effectively secured," said U.S. Travel executive vice president for public affairs and policy Tori Barnes. "Aside from concerns about migration and border security, it is an immutable fact: travel is trade, and the U.S. economy and jobs base enjoy many billions of dollars in beneficial impact from legitimate international business and leisure visitors to the United States."

At least one major U.S. airport has spoken out about customs agent redeployment. Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson general manager John Selden told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that he has reached out to Congress for assistance. 

"There's a deployment to the southern border and that has reduced our staffing levels here at Hartsfield-Jackson," Selden told the newspaper. "And we are advocating through our Congressional delegation to hopefully get more staff here to balance it out throughout the country."

In an email Thursday, the CBP said that currently no agents from Atlanta Field Office are assigned to the southwest border.

On April 1, former Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen ordered CBP to "undertake emergency surge operations and immediately increase its temporary reassignment of personnel and resources from across the agency to address the influx of migrants."

"The crisis at our border is worsening, and DHS will do everything in its power to end it," Nielsen stated. "We will not stand idly by while Congress fails to act yet again, so all options are on the table. We will immediately redeploy hundreds of CBP personnel to the border to respond to this emergency. We will urgently pursue additional reinforcements from within DHS and the interagency. And we will require those seeking to enter the United States to wait in Mexico until an immigration court as reviewed their claims."

In a statement on Friday, a CBP spokesperson confirmed that it "will send CBP officers from airports and northern border locations on temporary assignments throughout the Southwest border to support the U.S. Border Patrol during the current border security and humanitarian crisis. The selected CBP officers will be replacing the CBP officers currently assigned to support the Border Patrol along the Southwest border. The exact number and locations of the CBP officers is not available at this point."

Comments
JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI