August 14, 2017

Senator John Cornyn joined the race last week to see which Republican can be the most anti-immigrant by introducing a $15 billion border security bill called Building America’s Trust Act. Its intent is to increase Border Patrol, Customs and Immigration officer numbers as well as add to the already proposed $1.6 billion in the budget for Trump’s famous border wall.

But as this Texas Tribune article mentions, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) just released a report “stating that those agencies could not provide data to justify a current hiring surge” that had previously been ordered by Trump in January of this year. According to the report, OIG found:

The Department, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are facing significant challenges in identifying, recruiting, hiring, and fielding the number of law enforcement officers mandated in the Executive Orders. Neither CBP nor ICE could provide complete data to support the operational need or deployment strategies for the additional 15,000 additional agents and officers they were directed to hire. Although DHS has established plans and initiated actions to begin an aggressive hiring surge, in recent years the Department and its components have encountered notable difficulties related to long hire times, proper allocation of staff, and the supply of human resources.

Immigration Numbers Down

Since 2009, the United States has seen a negative net immigration flow from Mexico, meaning more immigrants have been leaving the country than are arriving. Customs and Border Protections (CBP) own numbers show a 47% decrease in apprehensions and inadmissible persons when comparing July 2016 to July 2017. There is roughly a 22% decrease when comparing the year-to-date numbers of FY2016 to FY2017.

According to a Pew Research Center study, many of the immigrants returned voluntarily to Mexico because of the recession in 2009 to reunite with family members. Other causes for the decline were due to increased enforcement efforts initially begun under the Obama administration. The current anti-immigrant atmosphere of the Trump administration has further decreased the numbers of immigrants attempting to cross the border in search of work.

More Immigration Hires Would Lead to More Corruption

The last time the CBP furiously hired more agents than it could handle, it led to a dramatic increase in agents being charged with a variety of corruption charges. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, then president George Bush pushed hard for a hiring surge. This resulted in many agents not receiving full background checks. Corrupt agents then smuggled immigrants, drugs and committed a variety of other crimes making the CBP the most corrupt agency in the Department of Homeland Security.

Now the Trump administration is arguing that another hiring surge is required to address an immigration problem that seems to be decreasing and not increasing. In order to meet the numbers he and Senator Cornyn are demanding, CBP would have to drop the polygraph requirements for new hires. This, on top of already lessening requirements for physical fitness and Spanish proficiency, would undoubtedly expose the CBP to more instances of corrupt agents entering their ranks.

All this begs the question, if immigration numbers are down so sharply, then why all the demand for more agents, equipment or even a wall? If the CBP cannot even support hiring and training more agents, why is the Trump administration demanding they do so?

This would appear to be a political and not national security issue. It is also a complete waste of taxpayer money.

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