Napolitano: Sequester means airport delays

Feb. 21, 2013 at 2:17 PM
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MIAMI, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned customs lines at Miami International Airport will get longer if there are forced cuts in the budget.

Napolitano, accompanied by congressional representatives, visited the airport Wednesday, The Miami Herald reported. Officials say about 1,000 travelers a day already miss flight connections because of long delays at Customs and Immigration at the airport, the nation's busiest for international flights.

She said all efforts to speed up lines with new technology and additional agents will "come to a screeching halt" if Congress fails to agree on a deal to avoid across-the-board budget cuts, the so-called sequester.

"It means not adding customs officers, we're going to be starting to furlough customs officers, not adding overtime to cover peak periods, but eliminating overtime," Napolitano said.

Reps. Joe Garcia and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, both D-Fla., and Rep. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., joined Napolitano at the airport. Ros-Lehtinen did not stick around to be photographed with Democrats.

Garcia pointed out that half the customs booths were empty Wednesday afternoon: "We're having a big debate over fixing our borders in Mexico, but we can't even get a rich Argentinian businessman through customs on time because we don't have the proper staffing."

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