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TSA, Coast Guard cuts to fund border wall ‘spell trouble’, Schumer says

Sen. Chuck Schumer holds a photo of a

Sen. Chuck Schumer holds a photo of a TSA canine detection team during a news conference on Sunday, March 12, 2017, at his Manhattan office where he criticized a Trump administration plan to cut 14 percent from the Coast Guard's budget and 11 percent from the TSA budget. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Nearly $2 billion in funding cuts that President Donald Trump plans for the Transportation Security Administration and Coast Guard would “spell real trouble for security” on Long Island and in New York City, Sen. Chuck Schumer said Sunday.

The Trump administration has called for an 11 percent decrease to the TSA’s budget, and a 14 percent decrease for the Coast Guard, as part of an effort to cut federal spending across other agencies and boost funding for immigration enforcement programs — including the construction of a wall along the Mexico border.

Schumer (D-N.Y.), at a Manhattan news conference, said he would fight the cuts, which he described as a “cash raid for the border wall.”

“You’re not going to quietly pillage the federal funds that protect New York on my watch,” said Schumer, who serves as the Senate Minority Leader, directing his message at the White House.

Schumer argued that some of the TSA and Coast Guard programs he says are at risk of being cut have bolstered the country’s counterterrorism efforts, especially in New York City, which he described as a prime target for terrorist threats, while building a border wall “would not increase safety and is profoundly expensive.”

Among the programs set to be eliminated are a $20 million program that provides flight crew members with firearms training to prepare for a possible hijacking, and $45 million in grants to local law enforcement agencies to add patrols in and around airports.

The cuts also call for eliminating a specialized Coast Guard team trained to respond to potential terrorism threats, and getting rid of so-called “VIPR teams” that specialize in detecting suspicious activity at airports, often with the aid of canine units.

“Slashing these vital programs . . . actually means tearing down a critical wall of safety that protects New York, Long Island, and much of the rest of our state and country,” Schumer said.

White House officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Trump has defended his calls for a “great wall” along the southern border as necessary to stem the flow of immigrants crossing into the country illegally.

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