Sequestration May Have Negative Impact in the Big Bend Border Area

Sequestration May Have Negative Impact in the Big Bend Border Area

Josh Navarro
NewsWest 9

BIG BEND- A possible sequestration in Washington could impact security along the U.S.-Mexico border, including just south of the Basin in the Big Bend region. The proposed cuts would impact more than 5,000 border patrol agents and more than 2,000 customs agents.

This could have a negative impact at the ports of entry like the one in Presidio. NewsWest 9 spoke to Monica Weisberg-Stewart, who is the Chairwoman of Immigration and Border Security Committee for the Texas Border Coalition, on the warning she sent out regarding this issue.

"If sequester comes into effect, it is putting our actual border crossings in an extremely vulnerable position that we should all be very concerned about," Weisberg-Stewart, said.

A major possible cut of the men and women who wear the blue and green uniform. They protect and secure the border in the Big Bend Sector and now their jobs to do that task are at risk. If Congress takes no action to stop the sequestration, $85 billion in cuts to federal agencies will occur.

"The reason why right now it is really serious is because in the past, they've never talked about our frontline defense," Weisberg-Stewart, said.

The Government Accountability Office says border security is already suffering. They say manpower is short by 6,000 at border crossings and ports of entry. Stewart says the border can't take any more hits.

"At the ports of entry, the statistics are showing, some Department of Homeland Security reports is showing that, if you want to get something dangerous across, you have a 70 percent chance of coming straight through our ports of entry. When we get statistics like that, and we hear the government is going to cut personnel, then it red flags us as really concerning," Weisberg-Stewart, said. "This is across the board. So what ends up happening is, when our government spent the right amount of money in the men in women in green, we saw a huge reduction of smugglers coming in between the ports of entry."

Just recently the Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano said sequestration would force the agency to start furloughs for frontline law enforcement personnel, reducing overtime and decrease hiring to backfill positions.

"Truly, they need to sit down in a room and discuss what is the best way to achieve and do not let our frontline defense not be secured because that's not an option," Weisberg-Stewart, said.

The Texas Border Coalition says the cuts will also affect waiting times at the port of entry and trade. If no deal is reached, the sequestration will take effect in starting at the beginning of next month.