The United States borders are about to become “25 percent less secure’’ as a result of budget slashing due to automatic spending cuts triggered by the sequester, Fox News reports.
Agents will no longer work a full 10-hour shift, meaning that the borders could be open and unattended during shift changes, according to Fox.
The cuts, which are to take effect on April 7 and affect up to 4,000 agents, come because the government has eliminated overtime payments.
And because some agents have to drive for up to two hours to get to work, they may end up working as little as five hours a day during their patrols, Fox said.
Some agents told the network that the government actually has the funds to pay them, although the government denies the allegation.
But Pete Hoekstra, the former chairman of the powerful House Intelligence Committee, told Newsmax on Wednesday that predictions of the nation’s borders becoming less secure was “a very serious miscalculation by this administration.”
“There’s other things they could be cutting to meet the requirements of sequestration and, at the same time, keep America safe.”
He said that the continuing budget resolution signed into law on Monday by President Barack Obama, which funds the federal government through Sept. 30, provides the White House with enough flexibility in making the $85 billion in broad sequestration cuts.
“The kinds of changes that are being talked about and proposed really don’t have to happen,” he told Newsmax.
Expected are reductions in border agents, mandated furlough days and cuts in hours that could have some agents seeing their salaries cut by as much as 40 percent.
“This is going to hit us hard,” one border guard, Nathan LeGender, told WXYZ-TV News.
Agents said they are concerned about being able to feed their families and pay their mortgages.
Meanwhile, Hoekstra, who serves on the advisory board of LIGNET.com, a global intelligence and forecasting service based in Washington, said the border cutbacks come as President Obama seeks a vote on immigration reform next month after Congress returns from recess.
“It’s the president’s responsibility to secure the borders, to keep America safe,” Hoekstra told Newsmax. “I find this to be a very, very interesting development, when the president has also said he wants to have a debate and a vote on immigration reform in April.
“It’s going to make passing immigration reform very, very difficult.”
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