(WASHINGTON) – The National Homeland Security Council today praised Congressman Tom Tancredo for introducing legislation that would increase the number of federal officers and inspectors within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) responsible for immigration enforcement. Introduction of the legislation follows months of lobbying, on the part of the Council, for increased levels of immigration staff within DHS.
“We are pleased that our calls for the necessary number of frontline immigration officers and inspectors have been heard,” said Charles Showalter, president of the National Homeland Security Council. “The legislation introduced by Representative Tancredo recognizes the vital importance of restoring balance between immigration and customs functions within the Department of Homeland Security and reverses a trend of ignoring enforcement of the Immigration and Naturalization Act. We hope this legislation will be enacted swiftly.”
H.R. 3333 would increase the number of immigration inspectors, and detention and removal officers, by 2,000 each by the end of 2008. The bill would also restore the authority of immigration officers to enforce the Immigration and Naturalization Act. Recently, this authority was restricted with the advent of the customs and border protection officer position within DHS.
The Council also renewed its call for increased personnel to secure ports of entry into the United States. Showalter noted that in addition to creating obvious potential homeland security gaps, inadequate staffing levels have also increased the amount of mandatory overtime required of all customs and border protection officers, which has negatively impacted staff retention rates. The Council also called for full law enforcement authority and retirement benefits for all customs and border protection officers.
“Homeland security is a people-intensive endeavor. Our government can’t skimp on personnel and realistically expect to keep Americans safe,” said Showalter.