In fairness, the hiring challenge did exist prior to the Trump Administration taking office and the staffing numbers were beginning to dip below their authorization levels during the closing years of the Obama Administration. The concern then, as it is now, is how to remedy the issue and fill out the ranks in both Border Patrol and Field Operations. After taking steps to streamline the hiring process, such as altering the polygraph procedure, CBP has recently issued a contract worth up to $297 Million, based on performance, for an outside firm to assist with the hiring process. While the contract does reference the hiring of 5,000 Border Patrol Agents (BPAs) and 2,000 CBPOs among other positions, it remains to be seen where the focus will ultimately lie.
A year ago, the President issued an Executive Order calling for the additional 5,000 BPAs, but he may not be fully aware of just how critical CBPOs are to executing his trade enforcement agenda. Properly resourced CBPOs and trade specialists are critical to identifying and interdicting dumped or counterfeit goods from China, or dangerous narcotics such as opioids that arrive illegally through the international mail-two priority issues for the President. More CBP Agriculture Inspectors are also needed in key Southwest Border locations, where large quantities of produce from Mexico must be processed while fresh in order to meet consumer demand and support the industry’s economy.