“We have been down this road before.”
During President George W. Bush’s time in office, the United States experienced a doubling of Border Patrol agents — from 10,000 to 20,000 — in response to the 9/11 attacks. Now, President Trump wants to do something similar by trying to rush the hiring of 5,000 new Border Patrol agents. But John Oliver points out that the rush to hire agents in the past had some negative outcomes. According to The Hill, the Department of Homeland Security wants to drop the required polygraph tests for new hires to speed up the process. The thing is, the polygraph tests were implemented for Border Patrol after Bush’s rushed hiring of Border Patrol agents, which ended up disqualifying many of the hires, even though they had passed background checks. Even Border Patrol Chief Ronald Vitiello told The Hill that 60 percent of applicants can’t pass the polygraph test. As Oliver points out, when the polygraph tests were first implemented for Border Patrol hires, there were some astonishing revelations that disqualified people from serving, like a man who admitted to smoking marijuana 20,000 times during a 10-year period.
Oliver also explains that the job of Border Patrol agents is not all action, pulse pounding arrests, and round ups. In fact, most of the job just requires you to be alone in the middle of the desert for hours on end without seeing another person. There is also the responsibility of humanely encountering and assisting people who have crossed the border that doesn’t include guns, handcuffs, and shouting threats.
The rush to hire as many agents as possible also led to increased corruption within Border Patrol since people weren’t properly vetted or trained.
“Consequently, as the ranks grew, corruption and excessive force skyrocketed,” Oliver said. “Misconduct became such a problem that, at one point, the Border Patrol felt it needed to issue a memo about the fact that agents were averaging two alcohol-related arrests a week.”
Oliver ended his segment, with the help of Will Arnett, to create a realistic Border Patrol hiring ad showcasing what the job is really like: full of boredom.
“The point is: if you’re kind, physically fit, impervious to bribery and boredom, and you want to serve your country by enforcing a controversial and ever-changing set of policies in the most humane way possible, then give us a call,” Arnett says int he ad.