(Washington)—The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) today applauded House Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) for their commitment to the men and women on the front lines in the war on terrorism. “Although the amendments they offered in yesterday’s mark-up of H.R. 4312, the Border Security and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2005 went down to defeat, we will continue to work to ensure that America has the best trained, best equipped, most effective homeland security work force possible,” said AFGE National President John Gage.
As the nation’s homeland security union, AFGE has raised a number of concerns regarding the treatment of Customs and Border Protection officers, specifically their lack of law enforcement officer status, which affects retirement benefits. “We are hopeful that in the future, CBP officers will be given full benefits and fair pay grade increases they deserve,” Gage said. “The men and women who comprise CBP put their lives on the line every day, yet they are treated like second-class citizens. CBP officers protect our country, but no one is protecting them, which is where AFGE comes in. We have, and will continue to speak on the behalf of every CBP officer in this country.”
“AFGE was pleased to see the inclusion of a ‘One Face at the Border’ study in the underlying majority bill,” Gage said. This program has resulted in a serious lack of expertise at CBP. There are specialized missions within CBP—each of which requires dedicated skills, training, and experience—that now are done by officers who are not trained in that area. This will be the first, comprehensive review of the program, which we are confident will show that the security of this nation depends on Congress doing away with the One Face program.”