When a U.S. Senate committee voted recently for a bill that would end lie-detector tests for some job applicants at the U.S. Border Patrol, it was a stark recognition that one of the major components of President Donald Trump’s plan to stop illegal immigration — a hiring surge of 5,000 new agents in the Border Patrol — is in serious trouble.
Snarled by a combination of bureaucratic torpor and the economic reality that not many qualified applicants find the job attractive, not only has the Border Patrol failed to make any of the new hires, it hasn’t even been able to fill the 1,700 positions it had open at the time of Trump’s January order to expand.
“Five thousand new agents, we all knew that was pie in the sky,” said Zack Taylor, head of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers. “They’ll be lucky if they can find 500.”
And an unusual coalition of immigration hawks and doves predicts that attempts at a speedy mass hiring will touch off a tidal wave of misconduct, corruption and even narcotrafficker spying within the Border Patrol as applicants with dubious skills and sinister intention take advantage of softer requirements.
“Given all the problems the Border Patrol has had finding new agents, we’ve been sort of unclear on how the Trump administration thought it was going to be able not to just quickly get the organization up to strength, but to hire 5,000 more,” said Joshua Breisblatt, a policy analyst at the American Immigration Council, an immigrant-rights group.
“The answer is that they’re going to have to find ways to make it easier to hire agents, and that could easily end in disaster.”
Photo credit: Astrid Galvan, Associated Press