The goals were high: 10,000 new agents for ICE to fight cross-border crime and immigration, and 5,000 for the Border Patrol to secure national borders.
But plans for staffing increases also were reminiscent of previous hiring surges that have led to serious problems. During the last major recruitment push under President George W. Bush, the agencies on the front lines against drug smuggling and human trafficking saw major spikes in corruption by agents.
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“It was a massive, massive administrative challenge,” said W. Ralph Basham, who was commissioner of Customs and Border Protection — the Border Patrol’s parent agency — at the time. “To get one Border Patrol agent, it was something in the hundreds of applications that you had to have.”