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Diversity on the Line: Border Patrol Seeks More (Black) Agents

While the Supreme Court worries about the timeline and challenges surrounding the border fence Border Patrol is looking for recruits — specifically black agents. The Border Patrol, which is currently the largest federal law-enforcement agency and is responsible for immigration and border law enforcement, hopes to bring its ranks up from 16,200 to 18,000 by the end of the year.

On top of its standard recruitment programs, it has instituted a special Minority Recruitment Strike Team to muster black agents. Currently only 1 percent, or 150 men and 8 women, of its agents are black. The New York Times reports the "agency is moving aggressively to recruit members of a group that officials acknowledge have often been overlooked or been difficult to attract and keep" Border Patrol claims it doesn't have a recruitment quota, but wants the makeup of the unit to be more reflective of the civilian workforce.

To see what the agency is doing to staff up, and who has a problem with the method,


The special recruitment team is made up of eight members, all of whom are black. The group has spent the last six months visiting high schools, colleges, churches, community centers and even black-oriented radio shows in Southern states with the hope of meeting interested recruits. In an effort to reach the staff goal of 18,000, the patrol has gone outside the usual recruitment speeches and ploys by sponsoring a NASCAR race car and entering a promotional alliance that makes it “the official federal law enforcement officers of the Professional Bull Riders.”

Though the move to include more diversity has its benefits, more find bigger hurdles on the border. The head of the Border Patrol union is calling the minority recruitment team a gimmick that hides deeper problems with growth. With the big push to get new blood, by the end of the year nearly half of the agents will have less than two years of experience on the job. The union head says, “It’s one thing to get to 18,000. It’s another to sustain it with quality people.”

Agency officials maintain the screening process and training for new hires is rigorous and designed to weed out less-qualified candidates — one is accepted for every 30 who apply. But concessions have been made as well. To keep application numbers high, the maximum age has been bumped up to 40 from under 37 and candidates who are fluent in Spanish get to skip much of the language training at the academy.

Should growing numbers and encouraging diversity be the focus on the border? Or do those concerned with quality and experience need to be heard?


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