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Mr. Bush has promised to double the size of the Border Patrol, which stood at 9,000 when he took office. His budget proposal calls for funding for 3,000 new agents in fiscal 2008 alone.

Customs and Border Protection Commissioner W. Ralph Basham, who oversees the Border Patrol, told The Washington Times last year that an aggressive recruiting effort by the agency had resulted in “no want for applicants.”

Mr. Basham said the ongoing attrition rate for the Border Patrol of about 4 percent was significantly down from previous years and meant that 6,800 new agents would have to be hired and trained to fill the 6,000 slots sought to boost the agency’s numbers to 18,000 and to make up for losses from attrition.

To meet the president’s goal, Mr. Basham — who once led the federal law-enforcement training center — said the agency had reduced the total number of days trainees attend the academy, “but not the training they receive.” He said the overall training schedule was reduced in October from 92 to 81 days.