On Wednesday, President Barack Obama released his 2014 budget proposal.
Included in the President's budget is increased funding for more than 3,400 new Customs and Border Protection officers that would make it possible to address some of the long customs lines at major airports around the country, such as Miami International.
"I'm so pleased that the President's budget would help alleviate the long lines we've seen at airports through the hiring of additional staff and allowing for cost-sharing so that each port of entry can develop a staffing model that works best for their unique needs," said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23). "This is a positive development for South Florida, where Miami International Airport is the "Gateway to the Americas' and the busiest airport in the U.S. for international flights."
The President's budget also makes permanent a pilot program enacted earlier this year that allows for cost-sharing with stakeholders, such as local and state governments, for hiring additional Customs and Border Protection staff. Broward and Miami-Dade Counties have been examining this program in order improve wait times at ports of entry.
In February, at the request of Rep. Wasserman Schultz, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano traveled to Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, Fla. to see customs and security operations at Port Everglades and Miami International Airport, and discuss the Department's on-going efforts to improve travel and trade.
During her visit to Miami, Secretary Napolitano joined U.S. Reps. Wasserman Schultz, Joe Garcia (FL-26), Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27) for a tour of Federal Inspection Services operations at Miami International Airport and met with local airport authorities and stakeholders to discuss collaborative efforts to streamline the processing of travelers arriving from overseas. DHS continues to work closely with the Miami Airport Authority to address staffing at peak arrival times, automate the inspection process wherever possible, and increase enrollment in trusted traveler programs.
"Secretary Napolitano saw first-hand how South Florida's ports and airports were understaffed even before the sequester cuts hit," said Rep. Wasserman Schultz. "The President's budget would help to significantly reduce the unacceptable lines and wait times we're currently experiencing in South Florida."