Coast Guard Faces Growing Challenges at Sea, and at the Budget Office

In Budget On

“When most people think border security, they think Border Patrol,” Admiral Midgette said. “What we do by intercepting drugs on the high seas has a direct connection to what happens at the southern border in terms of stopping illicit drugs and illegal immigration.

“When you are stopping drugs at the Rio Grande, that’s already a loss,” he added. “You want to push that stuff off from America as far as you can.”

But that is becoming increasingly difficult for the Coast Guard, which has operated with flat budgets even as its mission has expanded to include intelligence and antiterrorism.

There are newer ships like the Stratton, a Coast Guard cutter, but many others in the fleet are more than 50 years old. President Trump’s new budget would cut Coast Guard funding by 2.4 percent.

. . .

Most of the illegal vessels are sunk. Last year, the Coast Guard seized a record 450,000 pounds of cocaine, valued at nearly $6 billion, an amount that was more than all the cocaine seized by land-based law enforcement agencies combined. Coast Guard boats also intercepted nearly 7,000 people trying to illegally enter the United States, officials said.

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