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Senate passes McSally border jobs for veterans bill
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Senate passes McSally border jobs for veterans bill

  • A new bill will require the Department of Defense and Homeland Security to work together to hire veterans for around 1,200 unfilled positions at U.S. ports of entry.
    Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.comA new bill will require the Department of Defense and Homeland Security to work together to hire veterans for around 1,200 unfilled positions at U.S. ports of entry.

The U.S. Senate unanimously approved Thursday the Border Jobs for Veterans Act, a bill that requires Homeland Security to actively recruit outgoing military veterans for 1,200 unfilled positions at U.S. ports. 

Introduced by U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, the bill was passed by the U.S. House Representatives on Monday. 

In September, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson acknowledged that the agency was struggling to fill 2,000 new Customs and Border Protection officer positions created by Congress in 2014. 

In a June letter to Congress, Johnson wrote: "As of April 18, 2015, CBP has achieved a net increase of 838 CBP officers toward the additional 2,000 CBP officers funded by Congress."

Johnson said that while CBP was making steady progress, the agency was facing delays caused by problems with background investigations, including the failure of many applicants to pass a polygraph. 

The act requires the Department of Defense and Homeland Security to work together to help outgoing service members, including those with active security clearances, become CBP officers at ports of entry by streamlining the transfer of background investigations and security clearances. 

The law also requires DHS to actively recruit service members, which includes sending CBP officials to military bases and job recruiting fairs. 

"The failure to fully staff our ports slows trade coming across the border, hurting not just local communities, but our entire region’s reputation as a leading trade hub," said McSally. "My bill helps to solve this problem by ensuring the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security are working together to fill these positions with already trained and qualified veterans."

U.S. Sen. John McCain praised the bill and urged President Obama to sign the legislation into law. 

"This bill is a win-win for Arizona, helping our veterans find much-needed jobs, meeting urgent staffing needs at U.S. ports of entry, and improving the security of our border communities," McCain said. 

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