March 27, 2013
The Honorable Janet Napolitano
Department of Homeland Security
Nebraska Avenue Center, NW
Washington, DC 20528
Dear Secretary Napolitano:
As the Department of Homeland Security works to put forward a budget plan for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2013, I urge you to restore the currently scheduled cuts to Border Patrol personnel hours and pay.
Congress has passed and the president has signed into law a continuing resolution that provides the department with additional funding for Border Patrol salaries. While I fully understand the cuts that the department is facing under sequestration, the additional funding appropriated under the continuing resolution must be used to support our most critical national security needs. Security of the U.S.-Mexico border is paramount and requires the full-time presence of our Border Patrol agents. Funds for staffing and necessary overtime must be given top priority.
For many of the agents that I represent in the Tucson Sector, the furlough notices and cuts to overtime that they have received will reduce their salaries by up to 40 percent. Imposing this burden on agents and their families will cause extreme financial distress and will have a negative impact on morale. The men and women responsible for securing our homeland deserve better.
My district still is the most porous sector of the border with Mexico. It remains the corridor with the highest seizures of drugs in the nation. The reduction of border patrol agent hours will invite even more smuggling through the region and will increase the dangers to the people I represent.
I know you are faced with tough choices in how to implement the irresponsible cuts under sequestration but I urge you to find the funding within your current budget that is needed to restore agent hours and pay. Every department expense must be scrutinized because lower-priority expenditures come at the direct sacrifice of our agents, their families and the safety of my constituents.
Additionally, the agency must act to make these decisions in a timely and transparent manner to provide our agents on the border with the certainty that they deserve. I also ask that you present Congress and the American people a clear plan that assures that our borders will be protected and our border patrol agents respected for the work they do.
The security of our borders is a national priority and our Border Patrol agents are central to this mission. Through the hard work of Border Patrol agents, we have made progress in securing the border. Reductions in their hours and pay will degrade that progress. Our agents must continue to be authorized to work and receive full compensation to keep our nation safe.
Member of Congress