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Border patrol vehicles await the bus in Canton. Photo: David Sommerstein
Border patrol vehicles await the bus in Canton. Photo: David Sommerstein

Sequester means fewer agents along Canadian border

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The union representing border patrol agents says it's being unfairly targeted for spending cuts under the sequester, and that there will be less of a law enforcement presence along the North Country's border with Canada.

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Reported by

David Sommerstein
Reporter/ Producer

Starting next month, all U.S. border patrol agents will have to take a day's furlough for every pay period. That's equivalent to the five to six percent cut demanded of all federal agencies under the sequester.

But the agents will also have their regular hours cut from five 10-hour days to five eight-hour days, creating what union officials say is equivalent to a nearly 40 percent pay cut total.

Shawn Moran is the vice-president of the National Border Patrol council, the agents' union.

"Nobody in any part of the government is taking anything like this."

Moran says those ten hour days are part of a system of overlapping shifts, what he calls the busiest time for criminals.

"They know that we're in a state of transition, so that's when the smugglers and the illegal aliens try to take advantage of it."

Moran says the cumulative effect will be 5,000 agents out of the field at any given time. And that means, he says, less secure borders.

"We're going to see more people successfully crossing the border. When agents call for backup, there's going to be a longer response time to get backup, there'll be fewer people out there. On top of that, the agency is trying to save money in terms or vehicles and gas. That's also going to slash the amount of area we can effectively cover."

The U.S. Border Patrol referred me to U.S. Customs and Border Protections for comment. CBP declined to comment specifically on the border patrol agents' reduction in hours. In an e-mailed statement, the agency said it was making "every effort to minimize the sequester' s impact on public safety and national security". It said that it expected increased wait times at border crossings and fewer agents patrolling between those ports of entry.

According to a local union leader, more than 350 agents and their supervisors work along the border with Canada in New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire.

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