U.S. Senator Mark Pryor today said he is pleased President Obama signed into law his legislation that fights corruption of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents by Mexican drug cartels. The bill passed the House and Senate with unanimous support.
The Anti-Border Corruption Act will help prevent rogue border agents from being hired or retained. It requires the CBP to follow employment policies requiring polygraph tests of all applicants for law enforcement positions. The requirement would have to be met within two years, providing the agency adequate time to hire and train examiners. The bill also requires the CBP to initiate background checks on all backlogged employees within six months.
"As we secure our borders and make it harder to smuggle illegal cargo into our country, drug cartels and human traffickers are adopting a new tactic: if you can't beat them, join them," Pryor said. "This legislation proves that Republicans and Democrats can come together to do what is right for our country."
In March of 2010, Pryor held a hearing investigating corruption of U.S. border officials. During the hearing, CBP officials revealed that less than 15 percent of job applicants receive a polygraph test during the hiring process, although standing policy calls for all to be examined. Of those tested, an alarming 60 percent of candidates failed the test.
In recent years, the CBP has experienced a spike in internal corruption cases as a result of the agency's swift growth. Investigations of CBP officials have tripled since 2006, and there were 576 allegations of corruption in 2009 alone. In August of 2010, Congress passed and the President signed into law a bill that requires the CBP to hire an additional 1,000 new border patrol agents.
"Hiring new border patrol agents will help secure our borders, but only if these agents are truly committed to protecting our country," Pryor said. "My legislation will help weed out bad apples by requiring all new agents to undergo a rigorous hiring process and consistent background checks."