PHARR, Texas (Border Report) — Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar announced Friday that he is trying to get money from Congress in the next fiscal budget cycle to add new entry-level U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees who would help officers with basic “humanitarian care” of migrants.
Cuellar, the vice chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, said he is trying to get Congress to appropriate funds to hire 1,200 new federal CBP workers who would “change diapers, make sandwiches and input things into the computers instead of having those professionals do that.”
Cuellar made the announcement while on a panel with U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, before a lunchtime conference of about 1,000 people to discuss the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and how it will benefit the South Texas economy.
Hiring these proposed workers would free CBP officers from having to play nurse, maid and caregiver to asylum-seeking migrants who are overwhelming migrant care facilities on the Southwest border, Cuellar said.
The Rio Grande Valley sector is the busiest sector in the nation for migrant apprehensions and often CBP officers — whose primary job is to screen migrants and those crossing through our ports of entry — end up caring for their needs. That can lead to reduced staff checking passports, which can lead to longer lines at the ports.
“These folks will do almost everything except carry a gun,” Cuellar said. He added that these entry-level employees also would be the first to be looked at by CBP and Border Patrol when higher-level positions open up.
Cuellar added that he is working with South Texas College to train and identify potential employees who could fit this position — thus helping the local economy in the Rio Grande Valley.
As a member of Appropriations, Cuellar has successfully pushed through several measures to assist with immigration costs since the surge began in 2014 on the Southwest border. Most recently, he helped to secure $30 million in FEMA reimbursement funds to help municipalities and nonprofit organizations who have helped provide humanitarian care for migrants.
On Aug. 23, he announced that application for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program National Board’s Supplemental Appropriations Assistance Funding program, were open and that entities — which have aided border migrants who have been released from DHS custody from January through June — have only 10 days to turn in their applications.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at SSanchez@BorderReport.com.