It should come as no surprise that U.S. Customs and Border Protection is losing people at a rate that isn’t sustainable. With the constant assault on their motives, credibility, and morality, morale is taking a hit in the agency.
Field agents are required to learn a combination of military and law enforcement style skillsets. This makes the job exciting and interesting to people, but also means getting through the training process isn’t as easy as many jobs out there.
It also means that getting people through the training takes longer than usual.
Border security is once again in the headlines as the Trump administration tries to deal with another immigration crisis. President Donald Trump and many of his GOP counterparts have been demanding a significant increase in the number of U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the southwest border as a way of preventing more illegal crossings and apprehending more migrants attempting to enter the U.S. illegally. However, a recent government report indicates that Border Patrol is losing more agents than it can hire.
This isn’t for lack of effort in recruiting by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). According to a June 2018 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), job applications for the agency’s various branches more than tripled between fiscal years 2013 and 2017, largely as a result of focused recruiting efforts. CBP also improved its hiring process as demonstrated by two key metrics—reducing its time-to-hire and increasing the percentage of applicants that are hired. Border Patrol applicants in particular have been frustrated by the long wait involved, which was taking as long as two years to go through the interview, background check, and training process.
But despite these efforts, CBP is losing agents faster than it can hire and train them. Field positions for the typical agent are a unique mix of both law enforcement and military-type duties. Many agents—especially those in the Border Patrol—are working in remote and austere environments. In past years, CBP established forward operating bases, or FOBs, where agents would camp out for one or two weeks at a time so they could respond more quickly to border incursions. However, this was akin to a short-term military deployment (without the military benefits), and tended to have a negative impact on morale.
What happens if they continue to lose people faster than they can replace them? What does that mean for U.S. borders?
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