- The Washington Times - Friday, March 10, 2017

The Border Patrol won’t cut corners on its standards requiring a polygraph test for new agents even as it prepares to try to hire 5,000 more people, acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan said Friday.

“CBP will not lower standards in recruiting our frontline personnel who work to protect the American people every day,” he said in a statement.

His agency is trying to figure out how to hire agents quickly, without compromising the quality of people it has. The last hiring binge, at the end of the Bush administration, saw a slight relaxing of training, and caused problems as so many agents were brought on board in such a short time.

The polygraph test has proved to be a particular hurdle for applicants, sinking as many as two-third of those who apply for a job with the Border Patrol, according to an Associated Press story earlier this year.

Even before the 5,000 new agents President Trump has ordered, the Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection officers, who guard the ports of entry, are both struggling to meet their existing staffing levels.

Some 1,768 Border Patrol agent jobs and 1,046 CBP officer jobs are unfilled, according to Sens. Jeff Flake, John McCain and Ron Johnson.

The three Republicans introduced a bill Thursday that would waive the polygraph test for federal, state or local police who have been on the job for three years, have kept a clean record and have already cleared a polygraph test for their current agencies.

The new bill would also allow veterans and retiring troops to skip a new polygraph if hold a current security clearance and have passed a high-level background check for their current jobs.

Mr. McAleenan said he’s already considering waivers for military veterans or federal law enforcement personnel in good standing.

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