As President Trump presses for 15,000 new immigration agents, Homeland Security agencies can’t even keep up with hiring replacements for those who quit, according to new watchdog reports.
Two new reports from government watchdog agencies say the Border Patrol is losing agents faster than it can hire new ones and faces significant challenges in hiring and training new personnel, reports the Los Angeles Times. The reports from the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security and the Government Accountability Office highlight the difficulties that federal agencies have filling the ambitious hiring goals laid out by President Trump–5,000 more Border Patrol agents and 10,000 officers for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The GAO audit says the Border Patrol had 19,500 agents in May this year, nearly 2,000 fewer than required under a 2011 congressional mandate. Between 2013 and 2016, the Border Patrol hired an average of 523 agents each year. At the same time, an average of 904 agents left the job each year. Reasons include better pay at competing agencies, a hiring process that requires applicants to pass a polygraph exam (which other agencies don’t require) and assignments that often send new agents to remote locations along the border. The audit said four in 10 immigrant apprehensions between 2012 and 2016 occurred within half a mile of the border while about two-thirds of drug seizures by the agencies occurred more than 10 miles from the border, many at checkpoints.