POLITICS

Homeland Security Holds Off On Furloughs And Overtime Cutback For Border Patrol

YUMA, AZ - MARCH 17:  Handcuffs secure the back door of a US Customs and Border Protection border patrol vehicle loaded with suspected illegal immigrants on the California side of the Colorado River on March 17, 2006 near Yuma, Arizona. As Congress begins a new battle over immigration policy, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) border patrol agents in Arizona are struggling to control undocumented immigrants that were pushed into the region by the 1990?s border crack-down in California called Operation Gatekeeper. A recent study by the Pew Hispanic Center using Census Bureau data estimates that the U.S. currently has an illegal immigrant population of 11.5 million to 12 million, about one-third of them arriving within the past 10 years. More than half are from Mexico. Beefed-up border patrols and increased security are reportedly having the unintended result of deterring many from returning to their country of origin.  (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

YUMA, AZ - MARCH 17: Handcuffs secure the back door of a US Customs and Border Protection border patrol vehicle loaded with suspected illegal immigrants on the California side of the Colorado River on March 17, 2006 near Yuma, Arizona. As Congress begins a new battle over immigration policy, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) border patrol agents in Arizona are struggling to control undocumented immigrants that were pushed into the region by the 1990?s border crack-down in California called Operation Gatekeeper. A recent study by the Pew Hispanic Center using Census Bureau data estimates that the U.S. currently has an illegal immigrant population of 11.5 million to 12 million, about one-third of them arriving within the past 10 years. More than half are from Mexico. Beefed-up border patrols and increased security are reportedly having the unintended result of deterring many from returning to their country of origin. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)  (2006 Getty Images)

Homeland Security Department plans to force furloughs and cut overtime are on hold, officials said Tuesday.

The furloughs were expected to begin as soon as later this month and would have meant the equivalent of losing about 5,000 border patrol agents.

In a statement to members, Thomas S. Winkowski, the deputy commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, said: “Although the budget reductions imposed by sequestration are significant, the bill’s provisions allow CBP to mitigate to some degree the impacts of the reduced budget on operations and on CBP’s workforce."

"We are doing everything we can to minimize these impacts on CBP employees and will keep you updated as we continue to assess the exact impact the legislation will have on our operations and on our workforce,” he added.

In a Washington Post story, Shawn Moran, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Government Employees, said the union “is cautiously optimistic about CBP’s decision to postpone furloughs. We do have a well-founded fear that CBP will not do the right thing, though, and ultimately make a decision that will leave the border in an insecure state.”

The Post noted that union Local 1613, which represents approximately 2,000 Border Patrol agents, said it was relieved by the plans to postpone the action, but is being cautious.

“This is not over,” it quoted a notice on the Local’s website as saying. “We are like death row inmates who got a temporary stay of execution. It is a delay not a guarantee! We need to keep up the fight and keep the public and media involved and interested.”

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

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