Requests staffing review at airport to eliminate unreasonable delays
Dec 21 2011
Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) this week sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano asking her to review the staffing levels of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
“It is my understanding that a shortage of CBP agents continues to produce excessive delays in processing international passengers at LAX, which is the third busiest airport in the United States,” wrote Senator Feinstein. “I am aware that Customs and Border Protection has recently taken steps to add agents, implement the Express Connection Program, and expand the Global Entry Program. However, I am told that these steps have failed to sufficiently address the issue and reduce wait times at LAX.”
Following is the text of Senator Feinstein’s letter to Secretary Napolitano:
December 20, 2011
The Honorable Janet Napolitano
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528
Dear Secretary Napolitano:
I am writing to express my concern that the inadequate number of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents staffing Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is leading to unnecessary inconvenience, reduced economic opportunities, and security risks in Southern California.
It is my understanding that a shortage of CBP agents continues to produce excessive delays in processing international passengers at LAX, which is the third busiest airport in the United States. I am aware that Customs and Border Protection has recently taken steps to add agents, implement the Express Connection Program, and expand the Global Entry Program. However, I am told that these steps have failed to sufficiently address the issue and reduce wait times at LAX.
According to Los Angeles World Airports, thousands of passengers arriving from long flights are experiencing delays of up to three hours due to inadequate staffing. Furthermore, I am concerned that having a limited number of Customs and Border Protection agents available to process thousands of passengers through primary and secondary screening stations could result in the degradation of security at the airport.
LAX is currently improving the Tom Bradley International Terminal, which will increase the number of CBP primary booths from 60 to 81. In light of the current staffing shortages, these new booths may not be sufficiently utilized.
I request that your office conduct a review of staffing at LAX which will identify steps necessary to eliminate unreasonable delays. Specifically, I would appreciate a report of your findings answering the following questions.
- Are the staffing shortages in the primary and secondary screening lanes leading to a reduction in security measures at LAX?
- How many CBP agents are needed to effectively process LAX travelers within a 45 minute time period, the average wait time at other major U.S. international airports?
- How do the staffing needs of LAX compare to its current staffing levels?
- Given current CBP resources, what is your Department’s plan to provide adequate staffing to ensure that Customs and Border Protection services are able to keep up with the demand of airport improvements?
LAX is an economic engine in Southern California providing an estimated $60 billion in economic benefit to the region. Given the importance that LAX serves as an international gateway to the United States, it is vital that staffing is provided to maintain effective operations.
Thank you for your time and attention to this important matter. May I wish you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season.
United States Senator