International passengers at Miami International Airport (MIA) have certainly felt the detrimental effects caused by the sequestration, as thousands have missed connecting flights – because of CBP processing delays.

The sequestration has created hard caps on the amount of government spending due to the government’s inability to compromise on a budget.  Prior to the sequestration, CBP stated that they would ensure that their core mission would not be compromised, and under no circumstances would CBP diminish their commitment to completing their responsibilities.  On March 11, 2013, CBP began sending furlough notices to all of its 60,000 employees as the agency aims to make $754 million in cuts required under the sequestration. The furloughs are set to begin on April 21, 2013 and continue through September 30, 2013.

These furloughs will…

  • put full time employees on unpaid leave for no more than 14 workdays.
  • pro-rate furlough time for part-time workers.
  • freeze hiring
  • reduce and eliminate overtime and compensatory time

CBP agrees the biggest hit to border security comes from cuts to overtime. CBP will see income cut by 40%. Partly as a result of having to take up to 14 unpaid days off work.

What should importer/exporters and those involved in international trade expect?

Cargo processing during arrivals/departures outside normal business hours may experience delays until the following business morning. This roll over of work may in turn provide for regular cargo processing delays which are expected to take from 30 minutes up to a few hours during regular working hours. The daily tasks completed by cargo processing are not expected to be reduced. However, additional work usually performed during normal overtime shifts will be added to these daily shifts thus providing for extra delays!

CBP has prioritized perishable goods due to the obvious health risks involved. Agricultural products will also be prioritized to avoid spoilage and delays of these delicate products. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has commented that they are not expecting any direct impact to their operations and will immediately notify the industry if they anticipate any negative effects to sequestration. For the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at Fort Lauderdale Airport (FLL) overtime was immediately ceased, with the exception of security checkpoints. Staff has been kept on to accommodate delayed departing flights. TSA is still evaluating possible furloughs.

For now there are still many what-ifs, and that uncertainty is already taking its toll.

What can be done?  Advise Congress now on how CBP furlough’s will negatively impact your business.