Border Jobs for Veterans Act signed into law

U.S. Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ), John McCain (R-AZ) and Rep. Martha McSally supported Tuesday's enactment of the Border Jobs for Veterans Act in Washington, D.C., promising veterans employment at U.S. entry ports.

“I’m proud to have signed into law a bill that will help to put veterans to work, improve national security, increase cross-border trade and grow Arizona’s economy – all at no additional cost to the taxpayer,” Flake said. McCain also expressed pleasure at the bill’s signing, stating that it will facilitate veteran employment while improving border community security.

First introduced in the Senate by Flake and McCain as well as U.S. Senators Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y) on June 17, the new law will help employ veterans as Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at understaffed U.S. ports of entry by requiring the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to cooperatively recruit and expedite the hiring of outgoing U.S. military service members. 

McSally also publicly expressed her support for the bill's passage.

“This is how Washington is supposed to work,” said McSally. “We identified a problem, put together a bipartisan solution, and worked together to get it across the finish line and signed into law. This new policy will help fill the vacancies at our ports of entry with qualified, trained service members, helping them transition to civilian life while addressing the staffing shortages at our ports. I’m proud to be part of this bipartisan effort to get results on a local problem, and will continue to work to advance commonsense, achievable solutions on the issues important to Southern Arizonans.”

The law was created due to concerns over slow CBP hiring last spring. While DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson attributed delays to low polygraph clearance rates, polygraph examiner staff shortages, and background check paperwork, he acknowledged that more than half of the 2,000 new officer positions created last year by Congress to improve security and control trade traffic at border points remained unfilled in September.

Following a May letter written by Flake and McCain to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Johnson, the legislation gained traction and support, finally passing in both the Senate and the House in September.

The Border Jobs for Veterans Act will not raise costs or impact existing veteran hiring authorities. 

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