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Schumer Promotes Legislation Encouraging Veterans’ Employment At Ports Of Entry

New York Senator Charles Schumer wants returning veterans to fill open border agent positions.  He was in New York’s North Country Monday to push for passage of a bill he has sponsored requiring the Department of Homeland Security to recruit vets for jobs at Customs and Border Protection ports of entry.

Schumer toured the terminal at the Plattsburgh International Airport, which is undergoing a $55 million renovation that includes a new international arrivals facility.  The Democrat used that as the background to highlight what he says is the need for more customs agents across the country. He secured $165 million in 2014 that allows Customs and Border Protection to hire 2,000 border officers nationwide, but the positions have yet to be filled.

Schumer has introduced the Border Jobs for Veterans Act to end delays in Customs and Border Protection hiring and fill the open positions with people he says are pre-qualified.   “Who better to protect our border than highly trained outgoing military service members?  They know how to protect us.  This legislation solves two problems. It will require DOD to work with DHS to identify service members with expertise needed to fill border patrol positions. This would help CPB with its problem finding adequate personnel. And second it would provide good paying jobs for veterans looking for work.”

Iraq veteran Doug Mauran thinks the bill is a great idea — if it comes to fruition.  “When the military trains you, you’re on high alert. You know what to look for just by the experiences that transpired while you were in the war. You can tell right off the bat who’s going to do what and when and where.”

The Development Corporation Executive Director Paul Grasso, a veteran, chairs the veterans’ committee for the North Country Regional Economic Development Council.  He is optimistic about the proposal’s potential,  if bureaucracy doesn’t get in the way.    “For the jobs he’s proposing you certainly bring in leadership, teamwork, mission and you bring in the concept of security. All of those things that you’ve learned in the field and in your training this program recognizes that and helps them to get a job that has sustainable wages, great benefits and a career path.”

The bill requires the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security to jointly identify service members who can work at ports of entry and to expand recruiting programs for those posts.

Clinton County Veterans’ Service Agency Director Steven Bowman is optimistic about the opportunities the bill creates.   “In the bill he said that it was going to make it easier for disabled veterans to find jobs as well. So that opens the door for veteran exemption on federal employment which can bypass much of the red tape that it takes to apply for these federal jobs. Let’s face it most of our military personnel have already gone through security evaluations.  All they’d have to do is update that.  Most of them have worked with multimillion dollar pieces of equipment before. So, you know, what better or other kind of person would you want to handle a border area?”

Senator Schumer cites data from the New York State Department of Labor indicating that veteran unemployment in the state is 7.6 percent compared to 6.5 percent for non-veterans.  

The Border Jobs for Veterans Act is co-sponsored by Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona.