August 23, 2004
Adele Stan
Enid Doggett

Border Patrol And Immigration Officers Need Tools And Training

WASHINGTON, D.C.--Most front-line border protection personnel do not believe they have the tools to fight terrorism, according to a survey of Border Patrol agents and Customs and Border Protection inspectors released today by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). Although 91 percent of those surveyed said protecting the country from terrorist threats, and stopping potential terrorists from entering the country are "very important" aspects of their jobs, 64 percent say they have not been given the "tools, training and support" they need to get the job done.

While 77 percent say they have seen a significant shift in their responsibilities since the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, only a slim majority say the nation is safer today from such attacks than it was three years ago. A stunning 44 percent say the nation is no safer today than it was on that tragic day.

"In this time of heightened alerts and daily reports of new terrorist threats, you'd think that the Department of Homeland Security would be pouring resources into the work of those who protect our borders and enforce our immigration law," said John Gage, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees. "Instead, our survey finds that most border protection employees feel there's no way to even provide input on improving the effectiveness of their work, with 67 percent expressing concern over limited, if any, opportunities to provide input.

"Another major concern of these front-line workers is the hiring freeze now in effect in DHS," Gage continued, "a circumstance we find simply incredible in these tense times." Sixty-three percent said the hiring freeze has had a negative impact on their ability to prevent a terrorist attack.

More than three in five of those interviewed said that the Department of Homeland Security could be doing more to stop potential terrorists and protect the country.

"As the third anniversary of the September 11th, 2001, terrorist attacks fast approaches," Gage concluded, "we ask those who lead the Department of Homeland Security to reconsider the priorities set for the agency's use of its resources, and to open their ears to the concerns expressed by those charged with keeping the homeland safe from harm."

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