EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Arizona’s two Democratic senators and Republicans from Oklahoma and Ohio have filed a bill to give overworked border agents more money and more boots on the ground.
The Border Patrol Enhancement Act would boost U.S. Border Patrol agents’ pay by 14%, bring staffing levels to 20,500 nationwide and establish a reserve corps to handle migrant surges and humanitarian crises that have become routine since late 2018.
“Every time I’ve visited with Border Patrol, they have made it clear they need increased funding to recruit and retain agents,” said bill co-sponsor U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. “At a time our Southern border crisis is heading toward a catastrophe, we must provide Border Patrol with the tools and resources they need to do their jobs.”
Border agents encountered 207,416 unauthorized migrants along the Southern border in June. Nationwide, the number of migrant apprehensions has surpassed 2 million in fiscal year 2022.
U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, chair of the Senate Border Management Subcommittee and bill co-sponsor says the Border Patrol doesn’t have enough agents to either secure the border nor provide “fair and humane treatment” to the migrants that enter the country without authorization.
“Our bipartisan bill will give the hardworking men and women of the Border Patrol the support, resources and pay raises they deserve,” added co-sponsor U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Arizona. “We’ll keep working […] to ensure that our law-enforcement has the tools needed to recruit and train agents so we can ensure a secure, fair and orderly process at the border.”
Border Patrol union leaders welcomed the Senate bill filed late last week.
“The National Border Patrol Council staunchly supports this legislation. We are witnessing unprecedented public safety and public health crises with record number of Americans dying of drug overdoses and record numbers of individuals defying our laws with no consequences and entering our country illegally, oftentimes undetected,” said Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council.
He said the bill will help address recruiting and retention issues facing the Border Patrol now.
According to Sinema’s office, the Tucson and Yuma, Arizona, sectors of the Border Patrol have had such problems for years, as they often find themselves diverted from their border protection duties to help with migrant processing. Critical staffing shortages have been addressed through the temporary reassignment of agents from elsewhere, but the senator believes that will be hard to maintain if migrant arrivals continue at record levels.
“Our Border Patrol stand between U.S. citizens and people from 150 countries coming into our nation, potentially connected to the Mexican cartels or terrorist organizations worldwide,” added U.S. Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, the fourth co-sponsor. “We must ensure the Border Patrol has the people and tools they need to do their job. […] Our national security depends on it.”