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DHS Watchdog Casts Doubt On Trump’s Ability To Hire 15,000 Immigration Agents

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The independent government agency tasked with auditing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Monday threw cold water on the Trump administration’s plan to hire 15,000 new immigration and border agents.

The DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) said in a new report that it is unlikely DHS will be able execute such a massive hiring surge, given the stringent security vetting and training requirements necessary to hire law enforcement officers.

The OIG report found that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the parent agency of the Border Patrol, are “facing significant challenges in identifying, recruiting, hiring and fielding” the number of officers President Donald Trump wants for immigration enforcement.

In a January executive order, Trump called for the Border Patrol to boost its ranks by 5,000 and for ICE to hire an additional 10,000 officers for the Enforcement and Removal Operations division. Based on the results of previous hiring surges, it will be difficult for DHS to get anywhere close to those numbers, according to the OIG.

“Although DHS has established plans and initiated actions to begin an aggressive hiring surge, in recent years the Department and its components have encountered notable difficulties related to long hire times, proper allocation of staff, and the supply of human resources,” says the report from DHS-OIG John Roth, dated July 27.

The most glaring problem with the administration’s plan is that it would require a staggering number of applicants from which to hire suitable candidates. Based on current hiring and attrition rates, CBP would need to accept 750,000 applications to get to 5,000 Border Patrol agents. ICE would need more than 500,000 applicants to arrive at 10,000 new immigration officers.

“Entry requirements for law enforcement occupations are intentionally rigorous,” the report said. “Individuals typically must pass an entrance exam, qualifications review, interview, medical exam, drug screening, physical fitness test, polygraph examination, and background investigation. While these requirements are important to securing well-qualified individuals, they make recruitment and hiring inherently challenging and complicated.”

Even if the agencies could gin up that many applications, neither CBP nor ICE currently have adequate human resources personnel to carry out the hiring surge, the OIG report found. Both agencies also lack staffing plans to identify where and how the new officers would be deployed once hired, making it impossible to know if there is an operational need to hire so many of them.

“Without well-defined operational needs and comprehensive deployment strategies, DHS may not be able to achieve the correct number, type, and placement of personnel,” the report said.

Read the full OIG report here.

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