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Tomorrow, the House of Representatives votes on HR 2213, which would allow Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to waive the polygraph test for certain new hires, while a Senate committee holds a hearing on their version of the bill – the Boots on the Border Act authored by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ). Said Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice:
Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Border Patrol are two of the worst law enforcement agencies in the nation. The Border Patrol needs accountability for its abuses and reform of its ranks, not weaker standards to hire more corrupt cowboys. Instead of jumping to answer Trump’s call for a mass Deportation Force by relaxing hiring standards, Republicans in Congress and DHS Secretary Kelly should be working to get these agencies in order.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents have a long and ugly history of corruption, use of excessive force, and other abuses. Already, approximately two-thirds of applicants fail their polygraph tests. In 2015, the Department of Homeland Security’s own CBP Integrity Advisory Panel recommended expanding polygraph tests to include post-employment interviews. Removing this requirement will only further weaken the professionalism and integrity of this massive agency. Consider the following:
As the Atlantic wrote recently, CBP underwent a rapid hiring surge in the years after 9/11, similar to the kind of hiring surge Donald Trump wants today. At the time, CBP didn’t use polygraph tests to vet applicants, and some agents were sent into the field before background checks were complete, leaving veterans to mock the recruiting program as George W. Bush’s “No Trainee Left Behind” policy.
When CBP decided to clean up its house after corruption and excessive use of force complaints spiked, a polygraph exam was piloted – and immediately uncovered 30 applicants sent by cartels to infiltrate CBP. Though the polygraph is now administered for all new hires, it was not retroactively tested on those hired before the exam was required – and today, officials conservatively believe that 5% of CBP (about 1,000 agents) could be corrupt.
Apparently, Republicans in Congress are more concerned about ramping up Trump’s Deportation Force than ensuring these agents act with integrity. But our federal tax dollars pay for these agents, and Americans expect them to be fully vetted, adequately trained, and entirely professional – which is a far cry from where things stand today.