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Higgins launches push for more customs officers

WASHINGTON – Rep. Brian Higgins on Tuesday launched a bipartisan push to add more than 1,800 officers at Customs and Border Protection, the federal agency that's been temporarily transferring agents from the northern border to the southern border to deal with a wave of asylum-seekers there.

Higgins and Rep. Elise Stefanik, a Republican from Schuylerville, co-chair the House Northern Border Caucus. Together they corralled five other caucus members to sign a letter pressing the House Appropriations Committee to fund the additional customs officers in spending legislation for the federal fiscal year that starts in October.

"With CBP's onboard data and most recent workload staffing model showing a shortage of over 3,700 CBP officers, current staffing levels fail to address the growing demands of travel and trade at our ports of entry," the lawmakers said in their letter.

The transfers of customs officers from north to south is expected to continue through the end of the year, meaning the additional hires are clearly a long-term need, the lawmakers added.

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