Login

Register | Forgot Your Password? | Close
Register | Forgot Your Password? | Close

WASHINGTON - Border Patrol agents may not face furlough days if leaders of the House Appropriations Committee approve a Department of Homeland Security plan that would cut agents' overtime pay instead.

Rep. Ron Barber, D-Tucson, wrote to the ranking members of the Appropriations Committee Tuesday and urged them to act on the proposal. He said an overtime pay cut could hurt border security but that heading off furloughs is a step in the right direction.

"I know that the department was faced with tough choices in how to implement the irresponsible, across-the-board cuts under sequestration," Barber wrote in his letter Tuesday. "But I believe it is imperative that funding is identified within the budget constraints to maintain security along the border."

The plan, which would shuffle funds within the agency, is among many "reprogramming requests" the committee has received from both Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection, a staffer said. The committee is processing the requests and will work to avoid furloughs, Appropriations spokeswoman Jennifer Hing said.

Customs originally said it would have to furlough Border Patrol agents and eliminate overtime pay to meet budget cuts mandated under the "sequestration," automatic spending cuts that were to kick in when lawmakers failed to reach a long-term budget deal.

Customs still faces $600 million in cuts because of the sequestration, said Jenny Burke, an agency spokeswoman.

Barber said he hopes the committee will go a step further and restore overtime pay, which is being cut by $56 million, according to a press release from his office.

Customs officials said they also hope that they and lawmakers can find a way to avoid effects of sequestration all together.

"We continue to encourage all parties to work together on a solution that can replace sequestration entirely and avoid the damaging impacts to CBP and critical services across the government," Burke said in an email.

Border Patrol agents work 10-hour shifts, overtime that is necessary so agents have time to travel to assignments that are often far away from their post, Barber said. If agents have to travel from Tucson to Green Valley or Nogales, that gives them less time for work in the field.

"Cuts to agents' overtime hours will leave Border Patrol stations understaffed and forward-operating bases unmanned," Barber wrote. "This creates windows of opportunity for criminals to cross our borders."

He said in an interview last week that "everyone who lives and works along the border is concerned" by the situation.

Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada said overtime pay cuts affecting Border Patrol agents could result in more work for deputies in his county, which borders Mexico.

"They (agents) provide a lot of security, not only along the border, but among residents of Santa Cruz County," Estrada said.

He said resources on the border were already limited before talk of furloughs and cuts to overtime pay.

"Anytime that you have less boots on the ground it's going to have a negative impact," Estrada said.

share this story:
Attention KTAR.com Comment Users: We have recently changed our comments boards.
We would like you to be part of the conversation and The Voice of Arizona by logging in with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing KTAR (Arizona Sports) account members will need to create a Disqus account or use one of the aforementioned social media logins. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus

World Class Arizona

  • Dignity Health

    World Class People. World Class Company. Excellent care, delivered with compassion, for all in need.
  • CopperPoint Mutual Insurance Company

    SCF Arizona has a new name. They are now CopperPoint Mutual Insurance Company.
  • Taylor Morrison

    World Class People. World Class Company. We are a national home builder committed to building homes inspired by you.
  • Go Daddy

    World Class People. World Class Company. Go Daddy is a Fortune 100 "Best Companies to Work For."
  • Avnet

    World Class People. World Class Company. Here's information on a Fortune 500 company from Arizona.

Voice For A Better Arizona

  • Working For Arizona

    The business and economics of Arizona at the start of 2014 and looking forward.
  • Arizonans In Need

    Putting a focus on charities and organizations who provide help and/or need your help to fulfill their missions.
close

Share: