/ Modified apr 3, 2014 9:30 a.m.

S. AZ Ports of Entry Getting 170 Additional CBP Officers

About a month ago, U.S. Rep. Ron Barber, seven of his bipartisan congressional delegation colleagues requested more agents to staff Arizona's ports along border with Mexico.

An additional 170 Customs and Border Protection officers have been assigned to ports in Southern Arizona, according to a press release from U.S. Rep. Ron Barber's office.

The two border crossings in Nogales, Ariz. will get 120 officers, while the Douglas port and the San Luis port, located near Yuma, will each get 25 new CBP officers.

"Customs and Border Protection officers are essential to the smooth flow of legal goods and commerce across the border," Barber said in the press release. "I have been working to ensure that as we work on border security, we also ensure that we have economic security, which is possible only if ports are staffed so there are not excessive wait times."

About one month ago, Barber, as well as seven of his bipartisan colleagues in Arizona's congressional delegation, had written a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson with the request. In the letter, they alleged drug smuggling had been increasing through the ports because there weren't enough agents to cover all surrounding areas, the press release explained.

"Without adequate resources at Arizona's ports of entry, increased attention of cartels may result in lengthy delays of shipment inspections, thus causing economic damage to small businesses operating at the border," Barber and his colleagues wrote in the letter. "This threat would also likely increase wait times for legitimate tourists, whether crossing by foot or vehicle."

On Tuesday, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced it was hiring thousands of new officers to staff ports of entry in 18 states, including Arizona.

The funding for those positions came from evaluating the agency's resources, a press release from CBP's office said.

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