Agency looks to fill hundreds of job vacancies on border

Posted at 1:34 PM, Aug 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-12 14:34:05-04

COLUMBUS, N.M. (AP) – The U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the largest law enforcement agency in the country, has hundreds of vacancies for law enforcement officers to fill nationwide, and El Paso and Columbus, New Mexico, are among the areas where there are job openings.

“We take people from all walks of life, all job experience, people who have gone to school, been in the military,” said Customs and Border Protection Officer Adrianna Carranza, a national recruiter based in the El Paso Field office, which includes all of New Mexico. “We don’t focus in on one type of person.”

Starting salaries range from $33,394 for Customs and Border Protection officers and $41,187 for Border Patrol agents, with opportunities for agents to earn $51,484 with overtime, the Albuquerque Journal reported .

The Trump administration wants to add 5,000 Border Patrol agents on the Southwest border.

When asked about the impact of family separations on recruiting, Border Patrol Agent Frank Pino said it had not been an issue for him.

“It hasn’t come up,” Pino said. “If they have those questions, they don’t address them to us.”

The agency, in fiscal year 2017, employed 19,437 Border Patrol agents; 23,079 Customs and Border Protection officers at border crossings, including international bridges and airports; and 947 Air and Marine agents to interdict smugglers and contraband on the water or from the air.

Border Patrol agents had the highest profile role during the six-week zero tolerance period when families were being separated at the border, with photographs and video of them dealing with crying children and fearful parents appearing in the media.

“It is stressful for them,” said Carlos Favela, executive vice president of the union representing Border Patrol agents in far West Texas and New Mexico. “Who wants to see the kids crying and being separated?

“A lot of the agents are family members; they’re head of their households. They have to provide for their families, so they have empathy,” Favela said. “But at the end of the day, they do the job. The family separations are just one portion of it.”