WASHINGTON – In response to inaccurate and misleading claims that have been reported, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) today released the following statement in order to correct the record:
“CBP is disappointed in recent inaccurate claims about CBP operations during this health pandemic. Despite the false rhetoric, CBP has implemented a proactive, multi-layered approach to minimize our employees’ exposure to COVID-19 as they fulfill CBP’s critical national security mission.
“In addition, the ever-changing known and unknown safety threats posed daily across our nation’s borders have forced CBP to adjust its Weather and Safety Leave (WSL) for its employees where necessary. Although the CBP Office of Field Operations (OFO) had systematically decreased the number of mission-critical personnel at certain land ports of entry along the northern and southwest borders through the use of telework, WSL and reductions in port hours, officers have been redeployed along the land borders due to the potential threats from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The decision to adjust WSL for some personnel was necessary to further ensure we protect the American people from the spread of COVID-19 as we prepare for the potential increased influx of migrants along our land borders who may carry the virus. OFO is still utilizing WSL at airports, seaports and pre-clearance locations to the maximum extent possible while not compromising security or operations. Despite claims to the contrary, there are on average over 3,800 uniformed employees on WSL each day at airports, seaports, and pre-clearance, equally approximately 28% of the uniformed workforce in those operational environments. An additional 8% of OFO employees, or more than 2,200 employees, are on maximum telework each day.
“Consistent with the Administration’s social distancing guidelines, the CBP workforce is teleworking to the extent possible. CBP has ensured that personnel who cannot telework have ready access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including nitrile gloves and N95 respirators, as well as comprehensive guidance for the use of that equipment. We have also issued cleaning guidelines to all CBP facilities specifically to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“All CBP employees have access to an online resource portal that was established in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak to provide up-to-date health and safety information. Among other information, the resource portal contains risk exposure guidance, job-specific PPE guidelines, workforce support resources, and CDC prevention guidance. CBP leadership, including the Senior Medical Advisor, are providing frequent video and written updates to keep employees informed about this quickly evolving pandemic.
“CBP’s Senior Medical Advisor and Occupational Safety and Health team established robust procedures to ensure that any member of the CBP workforce who is exposed to COVID-19 receives appropriate and timely medical evaluation, diagnosis and treatment. All employees at facilities where an exposure has occurred are notified at the earliest opportunity. Employees who have been in direct contact with a colleague who has tested positive for COVID-19 are provided with guidance based on the specific risks associated with the exposure.
“Nothing is more important than the safety of our workforce and the American people. Every operational decision is made with this at the forefront, despite the false rhetoric from outside groups. CBP will continue to take every necessary precaution in order to keep our employees, their families and the American people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.”