WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Congressman Filemon Vela (TX-34) and Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (MS-2), the Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requesting adequate personal protective equipment for Customs and Border Patrol Officers (CBPOs) working during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the Congressmen sought information on the implementation of safety measures at ports of entry to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 to CBPOs and to the public at large.

“Thousands of CBPOs report to work through this national pandemic, potentially exposing themselves to COVID-19, to ensure that essential travel continues to flow through our ports. The failure to provide them with basic protective equipment, testing, and guidelines to safely manage the flow of traffic through our ports of entry is unacceptable,“ said Congressman Vela. “The health of CBPOs and border crossers directly impacts the health of the Rio Grande Valley community. We need to be smart about tracking symptomatic travelers and maintaining social distancing protocols for CBPOs to leave no stone unturned in fighting COVID-19.”

"I have growing concerns that our homeland security workforce is not being properly protected during this pandemic. Each day, more and more DHS employees become positive and two TSA employees have tragically died,” said Congressman Thompson. “We need to ensure our frontline workforce is protected so they can stay healthy and continue to do their critical mission. We call on DHS and CBP’s leadership to take all steps necessary to ensure officers have the equipment and flexibility they need to get their job done safely.”

The COVID-19 RGV-ICU Physicians Task Force sent a letter to Texas legislators in March 2019 expressing COVID-19 related concerns at ports of entry.