Border Patrol officials in Arizona are struggling to fill jobs. Like, really struggling. The agency is so desperate that it’s offering $10,000 cash bonuses and a fast track to more appealing positions if existing agents move to the state.
To hear the agency tell it, it’s surprising there are so many issues, because, as an Arizona Border Patrol spokesman told Fronteras, going to work for the Border Patrol is actually really fun.
“You can ride ATVs, there’s bike patrol, if you like to ride bicycles, you can do that. There’s horse patrol, there’s different units, flex team units. If you like to hike, you get paid to go out there and hike,” the spokesman said.
Of course, there’s also the part where you deport people, but sure, bikes.
Then there’s the cash. In 2017 the average entry-level Border Patrol agent was paid about $52,583 per year, but the agency says people can make an annual salary of $97,486 after five years on the job. (For reference, in 2016, the average worker in Arizona made $46,290.)
Still, seemingly few Arizonans are applying to become Border Patrol agents despite the fact thousands of them filled arenas and chanted “build that wall” during Donald Trump’s campaign stops. And this problem extends to the rest of the country as well.
The Government Accountability Office found that in May 2017 the Border Patrol had about 1,900 fewer agents than it was authorized to employ across the country. Trump is also mandating the agency hire an additional 5,000 Border Patrol agents.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement recruits are also down despite the administration’s call for increased enforcement. The number of people hired to be deportation officers dropped in half to just 371 in 2017, according to ICE.
This has all led Border Patrol officials to award a $297 million contract to a private recruiting company to help hire the new agents. The San Diego Union-Tribune crunched the numbers and found the Border Patrol will spend an average of about $39,600 for each hire.
These new Border Patrol recruits should be able to to have fun taking that ATV out for a ride with no hassles, because illegal border crossings are at their lowest level since 1971.