Border Patrol failing background checks

A hiring push by Border Patrol that added more than 6,000 agents over a two-year period has started to backfire, with apparent shortcuts in their background check processes resulting in some embarrassing discoveries. One example is that of Marcos Manzano Jr., who has recently been charged with harboring illegal immigrants. A search of his house revealed what prosecutors said was an underground room, where he was hiding two illegal immigrants, one of whom was his father. Manzano’s case was the latest in a string of approximately 123 arrests of federal law enforcement members on corruption charges nationally since 2004. He has pleaded not guilty and was suspended indefinitely from the Border Patrol. Critics, including the union representing agents, warned then that the agency was moving too fast, shortcutting background checks, lowering hiring standards and truncating the training time at the Border Patrol Academy. They warned one unintended consequence could be more cases of misconduct and corruption, and such predictions seem to be coming true.

That should be an ongoing concern for the Border Patrol, said Richard Stana, GAO director of homeland security and justice issues who authored the report.

“Anytime you have these hiring surges in almost any agency you run the risk of hiring people who are not suitable for the job or don’t have the integrity you’re looking for,” Stana said in a recent interview. “You have to put in place controls that identify these cases as early as possible and then act appropriately.”

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