The House Homeland Security Committee has approved a border security bill (HR-3548) that among other things calls for increasing staffing in two DHS components, CBP and ICE, along the lines of boosts the Trump administration earlier sought through an executive order.
The measure would direct DHS to achieve a level of 26,370 border patrol agents and 27,725 customs officers, both increases of 5,000; authorize recruitment and retention bonuses, special pay for new CBP officers assigned to the remote and hard-to-fill locations; and require agents and officers to undergo 21 weeks of mandatory training and provides for additional training for first and second line supervisors.
It also would allow the CBP to waive the applicant polygraph requirement for current state and local law enforcement officers who have already passed such an examination, federal law enforcement officers who have already passed a background investigation and veterans with at least three consecutive years in the military who have held a clearance and passed a background check.
Similar provisions regarding hiring and incentives have been advancing in the Senate, as well, in response to the difficulties DHS is having in recruiting and retaining enough officers and agents to meet currently authorized staff levels, especially in less desirable locations. The polygraph requirement has been cited as creating a logjam in the hiring process and a recent IG report concluded that the department is wasting time and money in administering those tests to applicants already deemed ineligible.