How US Border Patrol Got 'Out of Control'

Agency grew without oversight after 9/11, officials say
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 10, 2014 6:15 PM CST
A US Border Patrol agent stands guard on the island of Galveston, Texas, Monday, Sept. 15, 2008.   (AP Photo/LM Otero)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – The US Border Patrol has ballooned into a massive agency where employee misconduct is reportedly rampant, but figuring out who to blame—or how to fix it—is no easy job, Politico reports via Vox. Driven by security fears after 9/11, federal officials threw billions of dollars at Border Patrol and expanded its workforce from about 9,200 to 46,000 agents, some of whom, officials admit, were hired a little too quickly. "From an integrity issue, you can’t grow a law enforcement agency that quickly," says Robert Bonner, the first head of the newly minted Customs and Border Protection in 2003. Before President Obama took office, CBP had agents (some reportedly cartel members) accused of smuggling drugs or letting in illegals, while 2,170 employees were arrested on various charges between 2005 and 2012—nearly one per day.

Under Obama, a bureaucratic turf war developed as the Department of Homeland Security (which oversees CBP) apparently rebuffed FBI attempts to prosecute border agents. Homeland Security didn't empower CBP with its own fully functioning internal affairs office, so allegations ranging from DUIs to officer shootings went ignored. "Not a single Border Patrol agent for the last eight years has been disciplined for excessive use of force," says a retired CBP official. "With a workforce that large, that's amazing." So Gil Kerlikowske, CBP's first Senate-confirmed leader in five years, has a lot on his plate—including an extra $225 million to hire 2,000 more officers. "They’re pretty good at expanding rapidly and finding applicants to take these jobs," an analyst tells Fox News, but "a cost of rapidly expanding could be a lower-quality Border Patrol."

My Take on This Story