13 NOV 2017: It’s easy enough to say you will beef up the Borders, as Donald Trump did in a January executive order that called for hiring 5,000 more Border Patrol agents, and 10,000 officers for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Both are key components of the administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration and desire to bulk up border security. But it’s not proving to be easy to accomplish.  

Two new reports from government watchdog agencies say the Border Patrol is losing agents faster than it can hire new ones, and that border and immigration enforcement agencies face “significant challenges” in hiring and training new personnel.

The reports from the inspector general for homeland security and the Government Accountability Office were released separately over the past week. Both highlight the difficulties that federal agencies have filling the ambitious hiring goals laid out by Trump.

The GAO report said the Border Patrol has fewer agents now than it is supposed to have under a 2011 congressional mandate, which required the agency to have 21,370 agents. As of this May, the Border Patrol had just 19,500 agents.

Agents are also leaving faster than they can be replaced. Auditors said between 2013 and 2016, the Border Patrol hired an average of 523 agents each year, and an average of 904 left.


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