(WSVN) - U.S. Customs and Border Protection is looking to hire thousands in the next few years.
The agency has about 1,200 open positions now, in Border Patrol, the Office of Field Operations, and Air and Marine Operations.
On top of those vacancies, President Trump said he wanted to hire several thousand more agents over the next few years.
“We’re already about 1,200 agents short of the congressional mandate. With the executive order to hire another 5,000 people, we can’t get people to come on patrol,” Stu Harris, vice president of the El Paso Border Patrol Union, told Fox News.
Harris said it’s tough to recruit qualified people for the jobs, saying recruitment efforts have been stalled by imprecise polygraph examinations.
An Associated Press report found that Border Patrol agents fail polygraph tests at more than double the average rate of eight other law enforcement agencies. Harris said faulty polygraph machines are to blame, while former CBP Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske said it was more to do with the pool of candidates themselves.
Another problem: difficult job conditions. Border Patrol agents have a starting salary of $52,000, and can make $97,000 after five years on the job. But the Border Patrol’s own website warns candidates that the jobs involve working long hours, rotating shifts, and hazardous conditions. Applicants must also be willing to be away from home for a month – or more – at a time.
Harris suggested pay incentives as one way to attract more qualified candidates.
“We’ve got to find some way to incentivize to keep people there. So we can keep securing the border and keep people in the Border Patrol, instead of having people go to other agencies,” Harris told Fox News.
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