Furloughs bite for customs workers

Government-wide spending cuts will result in furloughs for 60,000 Customs and Border Protection workers.

The U.S. government on Thursday notified 60,000 federal workers responsible for securing borders and facilitating trade that they will face furloughs due to government-wide spending cuts.

Customs and Border Protection said it expects furloughs and other austerity will cause delays at ports of entry, including international arrivals at airports, and reduce the number of border patrol officers on duty at any one time.

David Aguilar, the agency's deputy commissioner, said it must cut about $754 million by September 30, the end of the fiscal year.

It aims to reach that goal through agency-wide furloughs, a hiring freeze, and reducing or eliminating overtime, compensatory time, travel and training.

Rancher: Mexican border isn't secure
Rancher: Mexican border isn't secure

    JUST WATCHED

    Rancher: Mexican border isn't secure

MUST WATCH

Rancher: Mexican border isn't secure 03:28
Locals: Arizona border is not secure
Locals: Arizona border is not secure

    JUST WATCHED

    Locals: Arizona border is not secure

MUST WATCH

Locals: Arizona border is not secure 02:26
Reality of U.S. border security
Reality of U.S. border security

    JUST WATCHED

    Reality of U.S. border security

MUST WATCH

Reality of U.S. border security 02:04
Forced cuts are 'a win for nobody'
Forced cuts are 'a win for nobody'

    JUST WATCHED

    Forced cuts are 'a win for nobody'

MUST WATCH

Forced cuts are 'a win for nobody' 05:35

Other agencies are taking similar action due to spending cuts that took effect last week across the government, called sequestration.

Customs spokeswoman Jenny Burke said in a statement that the agency "continues to evaluate further impacts of sequestration" on its operations.

"Even with these cuts though, individuals apprehended illegally crossing the southwest border will still be processed as usual," she said.

The agency said furloughs will begin in mid-April.

Reductions in Border Patrol overtime will begin April 7 and furloughs will start around the middle of that month.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on Monday that she expects customs wait times to increase to 150 to 200 percent of normal.

"I don't mean to scare, I mean to inform. If you're traveling, get to the airport earlier than you otherwise would. There's only so much we can do with personnel," Napolitano said.

The union representing some 24,000 agency employees predicted the cuts will "undercut" national security and lead to a loss of revenue.

Customs collects more money for the federal government than any agency other than the Internal Revenue Service, said the National Treasury Employees Union.

"There is no escaping the reality that sequestration is having serious effects on the traveling public and on vital commerce," said Colleen M. Kelley, the union's president.

Airports can make case to keep their control towers open

House passes GOP measure on government funding

        Forced Budget Cuts

      • Marines told to 'save every round'

        United States Marines are being told to preserve ammunition and gasoline as a deal softening the impact of automatic spending cuts continues to elude leaders in Washington.
      • 4 myths about the spending cuts

        The political bickering over the automatic spending cuts has done little but cloud the public's understanding of what's going on and why. So we'll try to set the record straight on at least a few oft-repeated misconceptions.
      • sequester impact acosta pkg_00001719.jpg

        Sequestration: Big word, simple thing

        We've had enough of the Beltway's wacky terms. Using fancy-pants words to dramatize and complicate otherwise simple concepts is becoming a habit of lawmakers.
      • CNN Explains: Sequestration

        Here we go: A new round of confrontation between the White House and Congress over the federal budget is in the offing, this time in a new attempt to avert the looming "sequestration" process.
      • Where you'll feel forced spending cuts

        Most Americans will feel the impact of forced budget cuts when their lives intersect with government -- trying to get through airport security to make a flight, visiting a national park, or using federal programs or assistance.
      • WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 12: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech before a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol February 12, 2013 in Washington, DC. Facing a divided Congress, Obama concentrated his speech on new initiatives designed to stimulate the U.S. economy and said, 'It's not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth'. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

        By the Numbers: Congress and fiscal delays

        Forced budget cuts aren't the only fiscal headache facing Congress. On March 27, the so-called continuing resolution that funds federal programs runs out and the government could shut down.
      • Airport towers get temporary reprieve

        Two days after a Federal Aviation Administration official told contractors that steps were being taken to shut down 168 air traffic control towers on April 1, the agency gave the towers an unexpected reprieve Friday, saying the official's comments were "unauthorized."
      • The US Capitol dome and it's reflection are seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on December 29, 2012. As the fiscal cliff deadline looms, Congress and the White House have still not reached a compromise. If no deal is struck by December 31 at midnight, taxes will automatically go up on both high earners and the middle class, and across-the-board spending cuts will go into effect. AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

        The real impact of automatic cuts

        From military training to educational grants to border patrols to hurricane relief, federal agencies face $85 billion in automatic, government-wide spending cuts this year.
      • 57 ways forced cuts could sting

        The sequester would touch many, many government programs and services. These 57 are a somewhat random sampling of what could happen.