John Moore / Getty Images, file
A U.S. Border Patrol agent looks into Mexico from the border near Sonoita, Arizona, on Feb. 26.
Federal workers responsible for securing the nation’s borders were warned on Thursday that furloughs may be coming in April due to forced spending cuts, the latest in a series of troubling proclamations from government agencies trying to sound the alarm before sequestration takes full effect.
A senior official with the Department of Homeland Security confirmed to NBC News that all 60,000 U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees received furlough notices, saying the forced time off would be necessary because of the automatic cuts.
The furloughs would not begin until mid-April and could total up to 14 days during the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.
Congress has the power to alter the cuts, which were agreed to by a majority of House Republicans and signed by President Barack Obama, before the furloughs ever take place.
Since sequestration began to take effect March 1, departments throughout the government have publicly hit the panic button with warnings of what the automatic spending cuts could mean for them and the country.
This week, the White House announced it has suspended tours of the West Wing. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has said teachers may lose their jobs, a comment he later amended. Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said the cuts have already made the country less safe.
Likewise, the announcement from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection suggests that America’s borders will be less secure.
"In order to address the more than half a billion in budget cuts imposed by sequestration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection must take significant budget reduction actions,” read a statement released by a spokesperson. "CBP will continue to make every effort to minimize the sequester's impact on public safety and national security, but expects that planned furlough of employees…will increase wait times at ports of entry, including international arrivals at airports, and reduce staffing between land ports of entry.”
Reductions in overtime at all ports of entry began on March 2 while reductions in Border Patrol overtime will begin on April 7.