An amendment to the immigration reform bill which would add up to 20,000 agents and $38 billion in additional spending to the ranks of the U.S. Border Patrol is being decried by many current Border Patrol agents. The opponents fear that a massive and abrupt hiring surge could allow criminals and lesser-qualified agents to join their ranks.
The additional hiring would occur due to a last minute amendment applied to the bill by Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) which increases spending on the US-Mexican border by $46.3 billion over 10 years and grows the Border Patrol force from 21,394 agents to 40,000. The amendment passed the Senate 67-27 and will awaits House consideration.
Based on problems stemming from a previous Border Patrol hiring surge under President George W. Bush, union leaders representing Border agents have expressed concerns about the new proposal.
“The last time they hired any large number of Border Patrol agents…they were given a badge or a gun and put out on the field and then a red flag would come up by the time they finally did a background check,” National Border Patrol Council spokesman Shawn Moran told Yahoo News. “We really do appreciate the intent of Senators Hoeven and Corker with the increase in manpower. We just think it can be done better and, frankly, cheaper.”
Following the Bush-era hiring surge thousands of applicants were sent to Border Patrol from people with criminal backgrounds, including some that had been charged with kidnapping, hostage taking and child molestation.
While many were filtered out, statistics indicate that some were not.
“I know a few agents that are a menace to society, but they have a badge and a gun,” one veteran agent and training instructor said last year.
Between 2004 and 2012, the arrests of more than 2,000 individuals employed by Border Patrol were logged.