Rep. Cuellar Supports Border Patrol
Deploying advanced border security technology and addressing Border Patrol Agent retention
Washington| Olya Voytovich, DC Press Secretary (202-226-1583); Leslie Martinez, District Press Secretary (956-286-6007), March 26, 2019
Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) helped secure funding and language through the fiscal year 2019 appropriations bill that provides support for Border Patrol. This includes deploying advanced technology between the ports of entry, funding for new Border Patrol facilities, as well as addressing the issues related to agent recruitment, retention, and relocation. Congressman Cuellar has been a long-time champion for addressing issues important to the men and women of Border Patrol and will continue to advocate on their behalf.
“As a Member of Congress, I represent over 290 miles of the southwest border,” said Congressman Cuellar. “The 28th Congressional District is home to many brave men and women of Border Patrol who put their lives on the line every day. I have met with many of these agents who have conveyed to me what they believe is needed to facilitate their mission to secure the border. In order to effectively secure our borders, we must deploy advanced border security technology, properly equip agents, as well as recruit and retain quality agents. I have included funding and language that encourages investments in effective border security technology and in our Border Patrol agents.”
In the fiscal year 2019 Appropriations Conference Report, Congressman Cuellar helped secure language and funding for:
· $100 million for new border surveillance technology;
o Fixed towers, remote video surveillance systems, mobile surveillance capability on the northern border, and innovative towers.
· $28.6 million for CBP recruitment and applicant processing;
· $20 million for Border Patrol agent relocation and retention;
· $27 million for law enforcement canines;
· $14.5 million for watercraft, including coastal interceptor vessels;
· $1 million for Carrizo Cane eradication;
· $33.4 million for a new Border Patrol Station in Freer, Texas;
· $192 million for a new central processing facility in El Paso, Texas;
· $30 million for renovations to the existing McAllen, Texas Central Processing Center;
· Improved conditions at Border Patrol central processing centers for both agents and migrants;
o $128 million for contract medical professionals,
o $40.2 million for increased consumable commodities such as food, infant formula and diapers, and
o $24.5 million for increased transportation between CBP facilities.
Securing Pay Raises for Federal Employees
The Congressman fought to increase pay for federal workers by helping secure language as a part of the fiscal year 2019 Homeland Security spending bill that gives an average 1.9 percent pay raise to government employees. This includes necessary pay raises for Border Patrol agents.
Border Patrol Pay Reform
An integral part of securing the borders starts with taking care of the men and women in green who protect the American people every day. In recent years, U.S. Border Patrol has faced severe recruitment and retention challenges due to the dangerous and demanding nature of the jobs they perform. A substantial number of agents are either retiring or leaving for other law enforcement jobs that offer more stable work hours, and in most cases, a less physically strenuous job.
As a crucial step in addressing this problem, Congressman Cuellar co-sponsored the Border Patrol Agent Pay Reform Amendment Act of 2019 (H.R. 1392), with Congressman Will Hurd (TX-23). This bill would amend a 2014 law that limited overtime pay for Border Patrol agents in exchange for increased base pay and a stable work schedule. By doing so, this would provide the men and women of Border Patrol with the flexibility to be compensated for the dangerous jobs they perform.
“One of the single, greatest challenges facing the Border Patrol is a lack of manpower,” said Congressman Cuellar. “Many agents are retiring or leaving for other law enforcement jobs that pay higher wages, offer more stable hours, and sometimes less physically strenuous work. The Border Patrol Agent Pay Reform Amendment Act of 2019 aims to properly recognize their efforts by properly compensating agents who put their lives on the line each day. This bill addresses this issue, with the ultimate goal of creating a safer homeland.”
Hector Garza, President of the National Border Patrol Council Local 2455 said, “I want to thank Congressman Cuellar for once again being there for the 1,600 the men and women of the Border Patrol in the Laredo Sector. This legislation deals with key issues that arose from transitioning agents from one pay system to another.”
Brandon Judd National President of the Border Patrol Council added, “In particular, we have many agents who are former military who still serve in the Guard and Reserves. This legislation addresses a key challenge created when agents take leave without pay to serve their country. We look forward to continue working with Congressman Cuellar to find additional solutions to solving the retention and recruitment issues in Border Patrol.”