WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Border Patrol said Tuesday it’s working to hire additional staff to manage the processing of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Officials said the aim is to take the burden off uniformed agents, who can then go back into the field. Border resources are stretched thin as the U.S. manages increasingly more families coming from Central America.
Agents said they are spending more than half their time feeding and caring for migrant families. Paperwork processing alone can take three hours per family. There were 58,474 families apprehended last month.
It’s not clear yet how many jobs will be open. They are envisioned as full-time staff positions, but Border Patrol officials said details were still being worked out.
Border Patrol has about 19,500 agents assigned nationwide and has struggled with hiring for many years — the number of agents peaked at 21,444 in fiscal year 2011. Many positions require living in remote desert towns across the U.S.-Mexico border. Agents must pass a detailed background check and a lie detector test that has been required since 2012 is a major hurdle, with just a 28% pass rate between 2013 and 2016. And U.S. Customs and Border Protection ranks near the bottom of the annual survey of employee satisfaction.
Right now, stations are overwhelmed with the influx of migrant families, as agents encountering more and more large groups of more than 100 people dropped in extremely remote locations along the Southwest border.