Greg Moran reports for the LA Times:
“The GAO report examined how the Border Patrol deploys agents and the effectiveness of checkpoints it staffs. Auditors say the agency has fewer agents now than it is supposed to have under a 2011 congressional mandate, which required 21,370 agents.
But as of this May the agency had just 19,500, or 1,870 fewer than required.
Compounding the problem is that agents are leaving faster than they can be replaced. Auditors say that between 2013 and 2016 the Border Patrol hired an average of 523 agents each year — and saw an average of 904 leave.
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 also sheds new light on where immigrants without permission to enter are apprehended and where drug are seized.
Four in 10 apprehensions between 2012 and 2016 occurred within half a mile of the border.
However, between 64% and 70% of all drug seizures by the agencies occurred more than 10 miles from the border, where immigration officials operate a network of checkpoints.Only 11% of drug seizures occurred close to the border, and checkpoints account for less than 2% of apprehensions of unauthorized immigrants.
The checkpoints are controversial, with critics saying they are not effective, easily circumvented and violate constitutional rights.
The audit said that the effectiveness of these checkpoints can’t be resolved in large part because the agency still does not have good data collection practices. Auditors have urged better data collection as far back as 2009 but say there are still gaps in reporting that make analyzing the checkpoints’ effectiveness problematic.
The inspector general’s report examines the management challenges facing Homeland Security, which includes Customs and Border Protection, the Border Patrol and ICE, and says the agencies can’t yet justify hiring thousands more agents and officers.
“Neither CBP nor ICE could provide complete data to support the operational need or deployment strategies for the 15,000 additional agents and officers they were directed to hire,” the report said, adding that the agencies faced “notable difficulties” in making hires.
In a report one year ago the inspector general said that it took about nine months to hire a single Border Patrol agent and about seven months to hire an ICE officer.
The new report noted that while hiring times have improved there are still “significant delays.” It attributed those delays to not having enough hiring staff or the internal systems needed to hire staff efficiently.”
Read the complete story at the link.
The incompetence of DHS Immigration Enforcement is an issue that needs to be addressed before Congress throws yet more money and bodies into the morass. A rational approach would look something like this:
- Hire the currently authorized number of agents first;
- Retain the current more rigorous hiring standards (immigration enforcement has significant corruption issues; lowering standards to put more agents on duty is like an “open invitation” for infiltration by international criminal cartels and even terrorist organizations);
- Improve pay, training, and working conditions for agents to reduce attrition;
- Improve data collection to ascertain whether additional agents would meaningfully contribute to enforcement and how additional agents would be deployed;
- Improve hiring times without sacrificing quality;
- Focus and prioritize enforcement on criminals, antisocial individuals, and new arrivals not claiming asylum or other protection;
- Work for a legislative solution that would legalize the bulk of the productive, law-abiding, undocumented migrants currently present, thus removing them from the “enforcement map;”
- Create additional avenues for legal immigration to meet US employer needs and largely eliminate the “employment magnet” for illegal migration;
- Once the foregoing are complete, do an objective analysis of whether additional enforcement agents are really necessary (chances are that with management improvements and legislative reforms, the current number of positions, if actually filled and on duty, is more than adequate).