In previous articles concerning port security and the Dubai Ports deal, I have attempted to point out other facts that have not made it into the mainstream news and still haven’t. In this article, there is some news about, believe it or not, Congressmen working a real problem – lack of customs officials.
According to an April 1, 2006, article in the Houston Chronicle, “Eight members of Congress signed the letter to Deborah Spero, acting commissioner for the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection.” In this letter they pleaded for an increase of 125 to 150 inspectors for both the Port of Houston and George Bush Intercontinental Airport. The letter included the following:
Unfortunately, the customs inspector staff shortage for the Port of Houston, nearby seaports and Bush Intercontinental Airport is limiting the ability to securely screen cargo and passengers while still allowing our regional economy to function effectively.
We ask that U.S. Customs and Border Protection take immediate and sustained efforts to improve the customs staffing levels for the greater Houston metropolitan area.
According to a representative from the Port of Houston Authority, this request does not include the additional inspectors needed for the new Bayport container terminal that will open this summer.