The head of Customs and Border Protection said Thursday that the agency’s ability to monitor the Southwest border would be significantly diminished if Congress can’t figure out a way to fund the agency.
CBP Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske said several technological improvements that help track people and cargo crossing the border would have to be put on hold in the event of a shutdown. Congress is fighting over funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which runs out of funding Feb. 27.
“I’ve had an opportunity to see the threats that are posed to this country, both by people and groups that would wish to do us harm, and to think that we would not be harmed … with the shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security through the budget is a significant mistake,” Kerlikowske told USA TODAY on Thursday.
Some in Congress have said that warnings from Homeland Security officials have been overblown, pointing out that only 30,000 of the department’s 230,000 employees would be sent home in the event of a shutdown. They have noted that Coast Guard cutters would continue patrolling the waters, Transportation Security Administration screeners would still check passengers at airports and Border Patrol agents would remain on the border.