WASHINGTON — Acting Customs and Border Patrol Assistant Commissioner John P. Wagner, from the Office of Field Operations, said more troops are needed on the southwest border to combat the threats currently facing the United States.
PJ Media asked Wagner if there are enough troops at the U.S.-Mexico border to deal with the added influx of minors and young adults crossing the southwest border and the possibility of ISIS entering the U.S. via this route.
“We’ve done an analysis and we have a need for 4,373 new CBP officers to staff all of the ports of entry across the United States. Congress was generous enough to provide us with funding for 2,000 of those officers for this fiscal year and the [Obama] administration’s budget proposal for 2015 contains a request for another 2,373, so the answer is yes,” he said following the Anti-Defamation League’s 2014 Shield (Service, Honor, Integrity, Excellence, Leadership and Dedication) Award ceremony on Wednesday evening.
“A lot of those would be dedicated to the ports of entry at the southwest border as well as the gateway airports all across the United States,” Wagner added.
The ADL’s Shield Awards recognize law enforcement for “contributions to protecting the American people from hate crimes, extremism, and domestic and international terrorism.”
Addressing the status of Border Patrol operations on the southwest border, Wagner said, “The number of children has declined significantly but we’re looking at the reasons for that and what the future holds.”
When asked about the threat posed to the American people by U.S. citizens affiliated with ISIS, Wagner referred PJ Media to previous congressional testimony.
“Given that terrorist organizations primarily seek to use commercial air transportation to move operatives into the United States or as a means to attack the homeland, our testimony will focus on international air travel,” said Wagner.
Speaking before the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, Wagner outlined some of the security measures CBP is taking to prevent terrorists from entering the country.
“CBP officers scan the traveler’s entry documents to perform queries of various CBP databases for exact or possible matches to existing lookouts, including those of other law enforcement agencies. For most foreign nationals arriving at U.S. airports, CBP officers collect biometrics – fingerprints and photographs – and compare them to any previously collected information,” Wagner said.
“Once a verified identity is established, CBP systems will identify any watchlist information and return the results to the officer for appropriate processing. In addition to the biographic and biometric system queries performed, a CBP officer interviews each traveler to determine the purpose and intent of their travel, and whether any further inspection is necessary based on, among other things, national security, admissibility, customs, or agriculture concerns,” he added.
The House of Representatives passed a resolution in a 273-156 vote on Wednesday that authorizes funding to train and arm the rebels in Syria as a way to combat ISIS, in addition to American airstrikes in Iraq.
“The authorization we passed today does not provide for boots on the ground in neither Iraq nor Syria,” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told PJ Media. “It does provide a training presence probably in Saudi Arabia of individuals who are fighting against ISIS, which we believe is a threat not only to the region but to America, and I think the right decision was made today by the Congress.”
The arming and training of the Free Syrian Army is estimated to cost $500 million.
Watch the interview on the next page.