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CBP to Add Additional Workforce

by Lux Joseph 14. April 2014

On every international mission that Commercial Medical Escorts (CME) does, our medical escorts interact with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). On a daily basis over a million individuals enter the United States and each individual arriving at a port of entry to the USA is subject to inspection by a CBP officer. As you can imagine, each international flight has approximately 200-300 passengers on board and some of these flights arrive to a destination at the same time or within minutes.  The high volume of passengers arriving into port of entries around the USA, does not always align with the right number of CBP officers on staff to handle the demand of screening required. This shortage of appropriate staff can affect travelers significantly and ultimately cause major frustration for frequent travelers and those making a tight connection within the USA.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has announced it will be hiring 2,000 new officers in the near future. The project was made possible with Congress allocating $255 million to hire these officers. This increase in staff will significantly impact the CBP’s ability to meet the needs at 44 ports across 18 states in the United States of America. This increase in staff is a 10% growth for CBP, and hopefully the addition of new team members will help the department improve the travel and tourism industry. When Commercial Medical Escorts’ travel department looks for the best routing to transport a patient back home connection time is a key factor in consideration especially at hub airports. The cities that are expected to get an increase in CBP offices are Detroit; Buffalo N.Y., Houston; Los Angeles; New York; Dallas; New Orleans; Laredo, Texas; and Nogales, Ariz.

When any company or organization increases their workforce, looking at the areas of improvement is one of the first steps in ensuring the correct allocation of team members. For the U.S. Customs and Border Protection they are looking at delays in certain ports of entry and the time during the day in which it occurs. During our medical escort missions, some escorts have been delayed up to three hours awaiting CBP process screening. Imagine a delay like this and typically connection time is between 2-5 hours for international flights.  CME hopes to see that this increase in CBP officers will be allocated at current international airports that are struggling with handling the volume of travelers that are entering the USA on a given day.

We must understand that the 2,000 additional workforce will be divided between both airports and land ports of entry. Our travel department advised that although the CBP has not indicated how the force will be allocated, the travel industry is fighting for a significant amount to be positioned at airports, at least 1,000 at the gateway airports.

U.S. Travel has set a goal of having 80% of all arriving travelers screened within thirty minutes. Goals within every organization set a benchmark for achievement. This goal helps airports to staff accordingly to meet the metric based on their specific airport volume. The National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events, University of South California evaluated that adding a single CBP Officer equates to annual benefits of:

  • $2 million increase in Gross Domestic Product
  • $640,000 saved in opportunity costs
  • 33 jobs added to the economy

It is common knowledge that the current number of CBP Officers is insufficient. Additional CBP Officers will reduce wait times and meet the needs of the travel industry. At Commercial Medical Escorts, we look forward to improvements to processes that improve our medical escort process. 


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