Thursday, December 06, 2012

Airport security, border patrol might see budget cuts if fiscal talks fail

WASHINGTON — The U.S. border might become harder to protect should lawmakers fail to avert the so-called fiscal cliff at the end of the year.

Among the many agencies that would be affected by the automatic spending cuts scheduled for early January are those that guard the borders with Mexico and Canada, inspect ports of entry and monitor airport security. Officials and policy analysts have warned that drug smugglers and human traffickers might be able to exploit a weaker border as patrol agents would be fired by the thousands and tens of millions of dollars for the border fence would be cut.

The $1.2 trillion in spending reductions also would mean fewer customs agents to operate X-ray machines and fewer security guards at airports, leading to longer waits at checkpoints, according to a congressional analysis of the prospective cuts.

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