Border Patrol hiring civilians as "processing coordinators" while Biden border crisis escalates

AP Photo/Gregory Bull

The Border Patrol is hiring and training up to 1200 civilians to assist them with processing the surge of illegal migrants flooding the southern border. The first class of “processing coordinators” graduated in January, the second class graduated in June. The purpose of the processing coordinators is to free up agents to get back into the field. Civilians will perform tasks that take Border Patrol agents out of the field.

The federal government may have a good idea here. Border Patrol agents are spending up to 40% of their time processing and assisting illegal migrants. This limits their time for conducting patrols and stopping smuggling activity. Do we want Border Patrol professionals microwaving burritos and gathering up paperwork for immigration court or do we want them out on patrol? The choice is simple – let them do the job for which they are trained. Civilians can be trained to take up the extra chores brought about by the massive number of illegal migrants. Frankly, I don’t think that a goal of training 1200 civilians sounds like a big enough number.

A federal judge ruled last week that the Biden administration can no longer enforce Title 42, which allows immediate expulsion of migrants due to public health concerns. The Trump administration put Title 42 in place at the border in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and it is one successful policy that Biden hasn’t ended just to spite Trump. Now there will be an increase in migrants who are allowed to enter the country, including family units, and be processed. They will be allowed to be on their way after the paperwork is completed and a court hearing date is scheduled. We all remember that the old-style catch and release program doesn’t work out so well. Biden said a long time ago that he doesn’t favor deportations so this judge only added to the problem.

The Biden border crisis in Del Rio, Texas continues to grow. Thousands of Haitians are warehoused under the international bridge. If that isn’t a public health crisis, I don’t know what is. The scene is a sea of humanity with little to do but roam around and wait for help. Processing coordinators are sorely needed there. While the focus is on Del Rio, for obvious reasons, a Fox News reporter confirmed Saturday night that 224 miles along the Rio Grande border are not being patrolled because of a shortage of Border Patrol agents in the field. The need for more help is there.

This new program for civilians is seen as a recruiting tool for hiring those interested in eventually working as Border Patrol agents. We know that morale is down among the agency and recruitment is lagging behind. The processing coordinator program requires less training and pays less but can lead to future employment opportunities. Brandon Judd, a Biden critic and president of the National Border Patrol Council, says the program is a good one for the agency. The positions are for 13 months, renewable up to four years.

While it’s early to know if the new employees will pan out as hoped, the hiring plan’s initial reviews are generally favorable. Their skills will be in high demand as U.S. authorities respond to the Haitians who suddenly arrived in Del Rio and other large groups of new arrivals.

“This is a very, very good program. It is a very necessary program,” said Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, a labor union representing many of the nearly 20,000 agents. “It’s a program that will allow us to get more agents in the field.”

U.S. Rep. Nanette Barragan, a Los Angeles Democrat, told the members of the second graduating class in June that they were “pioneers.” She saw the need for their skills in April while visiting a holding facility in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, the busiest corridor for illegal crossings from Mexico to the U.S.

The program idea isn’t a new one. It’s been discussed since 2014 but is now in place because of the need presented as historic levels of migrants flood the southern border.

The Border Patrol began to seriously consider creating the job in 2014. Discussions intensified when agents were again stretched by large numbers of asylum-seeking families and children in 2019, many from Central America.

“It becomes a bit repetitious and a bit frustrating that there’s no other option, right?” said Gloria Chavez, chief of the Border Patrol’s El Paso sector, who was deeply involved in the effort. “Who else can we lean on to help us with this task? So that’s when the conversation started.”

The agency also hopes the new positions will recruit future agents, including more women, who make up only about 5% of agents, Chavez said.

“The processing coordinators are going to be working hand in hand with our agents at the central processing center, and they’re going to be learning a lot of different skills, building up their confidence for everyone, and then maybe they want to apply for those jobs,” she said.

The Del Rio Sector in particular can use all the help it can get. The international bridge, the port of entry at Del Rio, has been shut down due to the situation there.