PHOENIX - We've been talking a lot in recent days about the need for more Border Patrol agents as a part of President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration, but some are saying the hiring process makes it difficult to meet these new numbers.
With thousands of jobs left unfilled on the U.S.-Mexico border, some Arizona lawmakers are looking to help speed up the hiring process for U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
It was earlier this week that U.S. Customs and Border Patrol held a hiring event here in the valley in hopes of filling some of the positions now available. But the hiring process can take months, which is why Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake are introducing legislation that would help speed up the process.
Here's the problem: the agency is already 1,200 agents short of a Congressional mandate. Trump's executive order is to add another 5,000 agents over the next few years. Not an impossible task, we've been told by insiders, but there are reasons why it's a challenge.
The job can be intense and dangerous. Long days and long nights away from home -- a heavy workload. McCain and Flake say the Boots on the Border Act would eliminate some of the flaws in the hiring process of border and customs agents. For example, Flake says he hears from people who never use drugs, but still can't convince the test administrators they are clean.
"We're told that they are badgered again and again to try to get them to confess to things that they've never done."
Flake says due the long process, qualified applicants are being weeded out and nearly 3,000 positions remain unfilled because of the agency's slow hiring rate.
"But there is a point which we have to say, are we doing too much? Are we making it too difficult? Is there too much deterrent there for good people to apply?"
The legislation would waive the polygraph test for applicants who have already taken it, which would include those who have previously worked in law enforcement or were members of the armed forces. Some critics, however, are concerned, saying it's dangerous to loosen hiring standards that Congress put in place to prevent drug cartels from trying to infiltrate the Border Patrol.
So we'll have to see where this all goes and whether the hiring process changes.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection current openings: www.cbp.gov/careers/apply-now