Sen. Flake discusses act to expedite CBP hiring - Tucson News Now

Sen. Flake discusses act to expedite CBP hiring

Sen. Jeff Flake Sen. Jeff Flake
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Arizona Senators Jeff Flake (R) and John McCain (R) appear dismayed with the hiring process for Customs and Border Protection agents. It's why the lawmakers introduced the Boots on the Border Act on Thursday, March 9, to address shortfalls in the process.

"There is a point which we have to say, 'Are we doing too much, or are we making it too difficult, with too much deterrent there for people to apply or to have people transfer from other agencies?' I don't think that this is unreasonable," Flake said in a conference call Thursday.

In a news release, Sen. Flake said he plans to waive "onerous and duplicative CBP polygraph hiring requirements for applicants with qualifying law enforcement or military experience."

Flake gave an example where qualified potential candidates are disqualified because of a roadblock with the polygraph test involving a question about drug use.

"We hear anecdotes from individuals who have never used drugs, ever, and they take the polygraph test and they cannot convince those who are administering the test that they are to be believed," Flake said. "Even if the polygraph says that they are telling the truth, we're told that they are badgered again and again and again to try to get them to confess to things that they've never done."

Sen. Flake said candidates fear that if they get a false positive on the test, it ruins their chances of either going back to their job or taking another job with the federal government.

The Senator cites data given by the CBP, saying that only about one percent of applicants are successfully hired. The data shows that more than 1,700 Border Patrol agent positions, and more than 1,000 CBP officer positions, remain unfilled "due to the agency's slow hiring rate."

READ MORE: Border Patrol struggles to meet hiring quota

The bill would give CBP the chance to waive current polygraph requirements for specific applicants, including local and state law enforcement applicants, federal law enforcement applicants, and transitioning members of the Armed Forces or veterans.

As far as communication with the Trump administration, Sen. Flake said his new legislation has not been presented yet, but it has been run up the ranks of Homeland Security and CBP officials. Flake gave no time-line for how quickly the proposed bill would work its way through the legislative process, but that he is hoping to get it on the Senate floor as soon as possible.

You can see a list of applicable members HERE.

The news release states that the Boots on the Border Act is endorsed by the Tucson Local 2544 Border Patrol union.

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