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The u.s budget cuts known as the sequester slated to go into effect on Friday would not only slow the economy by hampering the flow of trade and travelers, but it would also have an impact on national security.
The sequester cuts, which would cut $85 billion from the federal budget this year and $1.1 trillion more over 10 years, would cut force DHS to cut its budget by about 5 percent.
The impact would be significant, since her department is personnel-heavy. The department, for instance, will have to furlough Customs and Border Protection officers and reduce overtime, decreasing the number of hours Border Patrol has to operate between the nation’s ports of entry by up to 5,000 agents.
In addition to reducing the number of Border Patrol agents, DHS would have to reduce its maritime efforts, Napolitano said, and reduce its disaster relief fund by nearly $1 billion, potentially affecting survivors of major storms like superstorm Sandy.
Air travelers could directly see the impact of the cuts at international airports, where the average wait times to clear customs could increase by as much as 50 percent. At the busiest airports, such as Newark, LAX and O’Hare, peak wait times could grow from two hours to four hours or more. Meanwhile, reductions in overtime and hiring freezes affecting transportation security officers (TSO) will increase domestic passenger wait times at the busiest airports.