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Effects of Sequestration: CBP Releases Info on Effects on Border, Traveler Programs; USCIS To Lose $151 Million


U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has released information (PDF) about the effects of “sequestration” (mandated federal budget cuts under the Budget Control Act of 2011) on traveler and border programs. CBP stands to lose $512 million in fiscal year (FY) 2013 funds, according to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). CBP warned that it anticipates “significant potential impacts to cross-border travel and trade,” which will increase as peak travel seasons occur. The agency noted that, among other things, it will lose “up to several thousand” CBP officers at ports of entry in addition to undergoing “significant cuts” to operating budgets and programs.

CBP said that security will remain the highest priority. The agency noted that all trusted traveler and trader programs, including Global Entry, SENTRI, NEXUS, C-TPAT, and FAST, will be “maintained and emphasized.”

CBP said it anticipates the following effects, among others, at ports of entry:

  • Increased wait times for personal vehicles and pedestrians at land border ports of entry, with the potential of doubling of peak wait times up to several hours or more at the largest ports, leading to potential gridlock during peak travel seasons;
  • Increased wait times at major international airports of up to 50 percent or more, with peak wait times of up to 3-4 hours or more at some gateway airports;
  • Reduced flexibility to maintain or extend operating hours or respond to requests for new services.

CBP noted that the cuts are taking place against a backdrop of significant growth in international travel and trade. According to CBP, international air travel has increased by 12 percent over the past three years and is expected to increase an additional 5 percent this year. Also, land border passenger traffic is increasing on both the northern and southern borders.

CBP has launched a Web page to provide information and updates on the effects of sequestration on its operations.

Meanwhile, the Office of Management and Budget released a document showing FY 2013 cuts to all federal government branches and agencies resulting from sequestration. Among other things, it shows that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is primarily funded from fee-based services, stands to lose $151 million. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement also released several thousand lower-risk detainees in anticipation of budget cuts.

A list of the Department of Homeland Security’s cuts begin on page 27 of the OMB publication, “OMB Report to the Congress on the Joint Committee Sequestration for Fiscal Year 2013.” See page 7 of the OMB publication for a paragraph explaining what the numbers mean.

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Ivener & Fullmer LLP, a nationally recognized law firm, has successfully assisted hundreds of clients in immigration matters.

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