Of­fi­cial says Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion can’t hire 5,000 agents

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DINAN

An in­spec­tor gen­eral put a ma­jor dent in President Trump’s call for 5,000 new Bor­der Pa­trol agents and 10,000 new de­por­ta­tion of­fi­cers, re­leas­ing a re­port say­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion can’t be­gin to jus­tify that ex­cep­tional level of hir­ing.

Given the strin­gent stan­dards and hir­ing rates, U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion would have to re­ceive a stag­ger­ing 750,000 ap­pli­ca­tions in or­der to find 5,000 Bor­der Pa­trol agents.

The num­bers are only slightly bet­ter for U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment — some 500,000 peo­ple would have to ap­ply in or­der to fill the 10,000 de­por­ta­tion of­fi­cer slots Mr. Trump wants, said Home­land Security In­spec­tor Gen­eral John Roth.

Even if they could hire the agents and of­fi­cers, the gov­ern­ment can’t ex­plain how it would train and de­ploy them in a way that would make sense, Mr. Roth said. CBP, for ex­am­ple, said it’s still at least three years away from be­ing able to de­scribe its op­er­a­tional needs — much less align its work­force to meet those ob­jec­tives.

“Nei­ther CBP nor ICE could pro­vide com­plete data to sup­port the op­er­a­tional need or de­ploy­ment strate­gies for the ad­di­tional 15,000 agents and of­fi­cers they were di­rected to hire,” Mr. Roth said. “With­out well-de­fined op­er­a­tional needs and com­pre­hen­sive de­ploy­ment strate­gies, DHS may not be able to achieve the cor­rect num­ber, type and place­ment of per­son­nel.”

Mr. Trump called for the mas­sive hir­ing surge dur­ing last year’s cam­paign, then once in of­fice moved quickly to fol­low through, is­su­ing an ex­ec­u­tive or­der lay­ing out the ag­gres­sive moves.

The 10,000 ICE agents would con­sti­tute the “de­por­ta­tion force” the president promised, while the 5,000 ad­di­tional Bor­der Pa­trol agents would bol­ster ef­forts to seal off the south­west bor­der.

Mr. Trump’s 2018 bud­get asked for a down pay­ment of 500 Bor­der Pa­trol agents and 1,000 de­por­ta­tion of­fi­cers.

Democrats said the new re­port should pump the brakes on the president’s rush to hire.

“President Trump’s de­cree to dras­ti­cally ex­pand the Bor­der Pa­trol and increase his de­por­ta­tion force was put in place with­out a clear need for the 15,000 new agents and of­fi­cers or a plan for hir­ing and de­ploy­ing them,” said Rep. Ben­nie Thomp­son of Mis­sis­sippi, rank­ing Demo­crat on the House Home­land Security Com­mit­tee.

He told Home­land Security to go “back to the draw­ing board” and come up with a new plan that not only de­fends the hir­ing, but ex­plains how agen­cies will bring them on board.

In its of­fi­cial re­sponse to the re­port, Home­land Security brushed aside Mr. Roth’s as­sess­ment with­out ad­dress­ing any of his find­ings. In­stead, the depart­ment de­fended Mr. Trump’s vi­sion, say­ing it was a re­sponse to “emerg­ing op­er­a­tional needs and changes in tech­nol­ogy.”

“DHS re­mains com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing cor­rect staffing lev­els, ra­tios and place­ments,” said Jim H. Crumpacker, the depart­ment’s li­ai­son with the in­spec­tor gen­eral.

The 10,000 de­por­ta­tion of­fi­cers would re­quire ICE to hire another 6,500 tech­ni­cal and oper­a­tions sup­port staff, the in­spec­tor gen­eral said. CBP would have to hire another 3,000 staff to sup­port the 5,000 new agents.

Mr. Roth said both agen­cies are al­ready fac­ing prob­lems in iden­ti­fy­ing, re­cruit­ing, hir­ing, train­ing and de­ploy­ing per­son­nel.

At least a third of Bor­der Pa­trol agents sup­posed to be pa­trolling the south­ern bor­der are ac­tu­ally do­ing desk jobs right now, and could be pushed out to the front lines rather than hir­ing thou­sands of new per­son­nel.

With the level of il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion across the south­west bor­der ap­par­ently drop­ping al­ready, Mr. Roth said it may not even be nec­es­sary to hire so many new agents.

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