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U.S. Customs Says Sequestration Cuts Will Hobble Border Trade

Rep. Pete Gallego

If Congress isn’t able to avoid the automatic $2.4 trillion budget cuts of sequestration, then border protection and legitimate border traffic could suffer.

"Certainly, without question. If on March 1 -- if sequestration does happen -- the Border Patrolwill have reduced capability," said Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher testifying at a congressional hearing on border security on Tuesday.

Fisher said the Border Patrol will move resources around to counter the cuts but it will still have an impact. And for those crossing at border bridges, sequestration translates into even longer waits.

"It would be about 2,750 officers cut; about 12.5 percent of our staff," said Kevin McAleenan, the acting assistant commissioner for U.S. Customs. "The ports of entry would have significant impact on wait times and our ability to move people and things through the border."

U.S. Customs estimates that without a deal to override sequestration it could take up to 5 hours to cross a border bridge.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi