Border Patrol Agents conduct an operations check. (Donna Burton, Flickr)
Within the next two years, the Trump administration wants to hire 15,000 new border patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to help curtail illegal immigration. Hiring criteria may be relaxed to fill so many positions, according to NPR. Large increases of border patrol and ICE agents under the Bush and Obama administrations raised similar concerns that the new agents were not qualified for their duties.
Critics worry that expanding immigration enforcement in such an extreme way could add to corruption or misconduct. A 2016 report on U.S. Customs and Border Protection, conducted by an independent task force, found that border agents and custom officers, per capita, currently are arrested more often than officers in any other law enforcement agencies, the Los Angeles Times reported.
In a recent NPR interview, James Tomsheck, former head of internal affairs for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, exposed the dangers of hiring border patrol officers using reduced vetting processes. In the past, applicants were “vulnerable to being compromised” or even worse, were “persons who already had an ongoing relationship with a criminal organization.”
It was what these applicants had done in their past that most concerned us. They included serious felony crimes, active involvement in smuggling activities and several confirmed infiltrators who actually were employed by drug trafficking organizations who had been directed to seek out positions within Customs and Border Protection to advance ongoing criminal conspiracies, essentially be spies in our midst.
Tomsheck forecast problems with the pending increases. “I don’t think there’s any question that if we hire people that are grossly unsuitable for the position and place them in critical, sensitive positions along the southwest border, not only would it not enhance security, it would likely compromise security,” he said.
Another part of the Trump administration’s plan is to allow local law enforcement officers to become ICE agents. This could lead to more potential trouble, according to John Sandweg, former acting director of ICE.
“Traditionally, ICE has been more sensitive to civil rights concerns and provided a higher degree of training about how to do operations and enforcement,” Sandweg told Politico. “The oversight will change … how these agencies conduct enforcement under the agreement. That’ll be the biggest change.”