Staffing needs

The Border Patrol faces a current attrition rate of at least 6% a year, which means it would need to hire more than 1,800 agents just to net an additional 500. To net 5,000 new agents, as Trump had requested, for a staffing total of 26,370 agents, CBP commissioner Kevin McAleenan has estimated the Border Patrol would need 2,729 new recruits annually for five years.

Is it a realistic target? In a memo obtained last year by CNN, McAleenan noted that in fiscal 2016, the CPB hired 485 Border Patrol agents, and that was with “aggressive recruitment efforts and hiring process improvements.”

Meanwhile, apprehensions of migrants at the US southwest border have fallen by more than half since 2006.

In the face of this, Tomsheck believes rushing to add thousands of new Border Patrol agents to the ranks as quickly as possible is little more than a piece of political theater that’s doomed to fail.

“I guess the phrase, ‘We’ve seen this movie before,’ applies,” he says.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a comment from CBP, which replied to us after publication.

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