Today at the news conference held at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Jayson Ahern, CBP Deputy Commissioner said, “U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) currently is maintaining normal border security operations at and between our ports of entry in the impacted area of the border. We have established our lead field coordinator, which is Chief Ron Vitiello, our local Border Patrol sector chief. We also are actively maintaining liaison officers at local, state and FEMA command and coordination centers in order to most effectively commit our resources to those agencies and individuals in need. We have approximately 3,500 employees who are living in the impacted area and who continue to work toward keeping our country safe.
We also have either forward deployed or put on alert some of our special teams like our BORSTAR search and rescue assets and have additional frontline personnel and equipment from outside the impacted area on standby to deploy should that become necessary for us to maintain normal operations or assist in recovery.
We are constantly assessing the situation on the ground. Clearly stated: We will not impede a safe, speedy and officially ordered evacuation. Saving lives is always the paramount responsibility of this department and the same is true at the border. We have repeatedly communicated that our highest priority will be the safe evacuation of people who are leaving the danger zone. Our agents and officers are available to help anyone, regardless of citizenship or nationality.
Further, our enforcement responsibilities will not impede the facilitation of Mexican nationals or colonial residents during an officially ordered evacuation. Obviously, our laws will not be suspended, but CBP's priority will be assisting local officials as they carry out a safe and speedy evacuation of people leaving the impacted area.
However, we do know that criminal organizations will attempt to take advantage of the weather situation. For example just a short while ago we caught smugglers with a load of narcotics in the 5,000 pound range attempting to pass through our Highway 77 checkpoint, thinking they would find our operations reduced. Let me be clear to criminals thinking they will take advantage of the storm or its aftermath, we will remain active and vigilant in enforcing the laws.
Should circumstances warrant, CBP field leaders have the authority to implement alternative measures, dependent on circumstances, to reduce the processing time for individuals seeking entry into the U.S. or passing through Border Patrol checkpoints.”
With the above instance quoted by the CBP Deputy Commissioner it is evident and clear that in spite of the bad weather conditions prevailing in the state, CBP officers will remain active and vigilant in enforcing the laws and ensuring safety at the border and they will leave no opportunity to the criminals to take any advantage of the present situation in the State.
NOTE: The following statement concerning CBP’s response to Hurricane Dolly in Texas by Jayson Ahern, CBP Deputy Commissioner, was presented at a news conference at the Federal Emergency Management Agency today.