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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?


Join The Conversation
janneth janneth 9 years
The fact that all 8 members of the special recruitment team are black is bound to help the effort. I can see trying to get more blacks, while still keeping it open to all who qualify.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
I don't know. IT certaintly sounds that way.
Michelle2 Michelle2 9 years
I wonder what that would mean for me as a non-black. If I applied as a non-black with the exact same credentials, would I be turned down, while if I applied as black, I would get hired?
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
I certainly mean no disparagement to the Border Patrol, either. I just think man, you sure have to like being on your own to do that job! I certainly have respect for those who do it. They are very brave as well.
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
Maybe they don't have a lot of african american applicants? of African American demographics, are there very many who live near the border, from Texas to California? Or Canada? Is it an appealing job for them? Of my black friends, I can't think of a single one of them who would want to move out to the desert and patrol the Mexican border. also, I can't help but think when organizations say that they don't have many African American members or employees, what are they expecting? there is only a certain percentage of black people to other races in the whole country. It's important to have diversity, but what kind of numbers are they expecting? like, suddenly you're going to jump up to a full quarter of your workforce be black? And of all the random one horse border towns, how are they planning to make it enticing enough for anyone who wasn't from there to begin with? it's not like everyone can be stationed in the big cities. The Mexican border has some big towns, but a lot of it is lonely and desolate. I'm sure they've thought of all of this, and didn't need my help. Thanks for listening. :)
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
I would rather they just hired the best candidates for the job, and left the race or sex out of it.
janneth janneth 9 years
I'm glad somebody is hiring.
stephley stephley 9 years
"Should growing numbers and encouraging diversity be the focus on the border? Or do those concerned with quality and experience need to be heard?" Is it me, or does this suggest that the two are mutually exclusive? I think it's the use of the word "Or". Are they recruiting Hispanics as well?
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
"Hey, look! We're not racist! You're being hauled in by black officers. See? We're cool!"
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