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>> A central part of President Donald Trump's sweeping plan to crack down on illegal immigration is a proposal to add nearly 5,000 Border Patrol agents. But according to former top officials from US Customs and Border Patrol, the hiring push might be unnecessary. Reuters correspondent Mica Rosenberg has more details.
>> This is gonna be a costly endeavor. And the question is whether or not it's needed. Since the number of apprehensions at the border has dramatically decreased over the past decade. All of the immigration ramp up that President Trump is recommending is going to be very expensive. And this is one area that Congress is gonna have to look at very closely to see whether or not the spending on additional agents is the most needed area for spending.
>> Homeland Security spokespeople declined to estimate how much the increased hiring would cost. But a 2017 budget request for staffing estimates an agent on average is paid $180,000 a year in salary, overtime, and benefits. The last time Homeland Security went.on a massive hiring spree was about a decade ago in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks.
When it doubled of the number of agents from nearly 10,000 in 2001 to 20,000 by 2008. But, the rapid hiring caused a lot of problems.>> The hiring happened very quickly and there wasn't the best screening in place. And so there were problems with corruption. And so what the Congress did in 2010 is they instituted a mandatory polygraph test for all of the Border Patrol agents.
And so, that now has lengthened the hiring process.>> Those tests revealed some candidates who were compromised by drug cartels or were heavy drug users themselves. Applicants now also have to undergo a cognitive exam, fingerprinting. Financial disclosure, fitness tests, medical examinations, and background checks. The rigorous hiring process means that openings in the past have gone unfilled.
Due to the difficulty of finding and vetting qualified candidates.