Local CBP officers may be required to take French language training

in News

DERBY LINE — U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has agreed to study and analyze the requirements and need for implementing a French-language training program for northern border customs officers based at duty locations near the U.S. – Quebec border.

Schumer launched his push for this kind of program in April, following concerns and reported frustration from citizens regarding delays and back-ups at northern border ports of entry due to language barriers between agents and French-speaking Canadian visitors.

Schumer said a language training program would make the Ports of Entry more efficient and could bring more business and tourism to the North Country.

In a response to Schumer, CBP agreed to review and assess the operational requirements for the application and use of French language by CBP personnel along the northern border.

CBP said that if their analysis indicated a clear need, the agency would initiate a cost benefit analysis and develop a strategy, which could include a French language training program at CBP’s Field Operations Academy.

“This is great news and a step in the right direction for the residents and visitors who experience excessive delays at the U.S. – Quebec border due to language barriers,” Schumer said. “A language barrier not only slows down the border crossing process, but constant back-ups and delays can have detrimental effects on local tourism and businesses.

Schumer went on to note that Spanish language training is provided for southwest border officers, saying that “it is a no-brainer that we provide similar language programs in French for our officers.”

Schumer said the inability to communicate is largely because these CBP officers are not trained in French. Schumer added that a simple, task-based French-language training program would give CBP officers the basic knowledge they need to process French-speaking visitors more quickly, making the entire crossing process at the border more effective.

Currently there is no CBP hiring preference based on foreign language skills.

CBP officers stationed at duty locations along the southwest border are required to be proficient in reading, writing, and speaking Spanish. If these officers are not already proficient in Spanish when they are hired, they are required to take a Spanish course at the CBP Academy’s federal training center. This Basic Spanish Training Program (BSTP) is a task-based program.

According to Schumer this has proven to be an effective tool at helping process visitors more quickly and efficiently.

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