San Diego: Dozens, even hundreds, of asylum-seeking migrants often wait hours to surrender to US Border Patrol agents, but thousands of Haitians gathered on a bridge in the tiny border town of Del Rio, Texas, in unprecedented numbers. May be and point to a glare. Problem with Federal Police Agency staff.
Instead of patrolling and uncovering smuggling activity, its agents spend about 40% of their time already in custody looking after people and administrative tasks that are not related to border security.
The agency expects the time-consuming task of checking holding cells and gathering information for immigration court papers to make sure burritos are served properly in the microwave.
The Border Patrol graduated its first class of processing coordinators in January, with the goal of eventually hiring 1,200. The position requires less training than law enforcement officers and pays less. It is also seen as a recruitment tool for an agency that has struggled to find qualified applicants, especially women.
While it’s too early to know whether new hires will perform as expected, initial reviews of hiring plans are generally favorable. Their skills would be in high demand as American officials responded to the Haitians who suddenly arrived in Del Río and other large groups of new arrivals.
This is a very good program. This is a much-needed program,” said Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, a labor union that represents many of the approximately 20,000 agents. will allow.
US Representative Nanette Barragan, a Los Angeles Democrat, told members of the second graduating class in June that they were leading. He saw the need for his skills in April while visiting a holding facility in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, the busiest corridor for illegal crossings from Mexico to the US.
Barragan said the unaccompanied children were held at the facility for several days, unable to call their parents. Agents were working round the clock to process children quickly, but they needed help, she told the graduating class.
The need is particularly acute during periodic spikes at the US-Mexico border, which have been seen in 2014, 2019, and again this year. Coordinator positions are for 13 months, renewable for up to four years.
Most single adults are expelled without the opportunity to seek refuge under a pandemic-related authority designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Unaccompanied children and most families may seek humanitarian protection, leaving little incentive to avoid capture as they will be released with notice to appear in court in the US.
As a result, there are migrants who cross the border and wait – and wait – for agents to arrive, and who may need more care than they once were. In August, families accounted for 41% of Border Patrol encounters, and unaccompanied children accounted for 9%.
Agents also complain that they have little time to chase down migrants who are trying to avoid being picked up.
A civilian coordinator assigned to the San Diego-area border station, Ed Franco Avalos, got a taste for the work in 2019, when he worked for the Transportation Security Administration at Palm Springs International Airport in California.
Franco Avalos volunteered for a temporary Border Patrol assignment in El Paso, Texas, and felt fulfilled caring for migrants. When she saw an opening in California that wouldn’t require a family move, the Los Angeles native decided to make a career change.
I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into at first because it was a new position, but I knew the agents were in dire need of my help, she said.
Avalos would like to become a Border Patrol agent, but at 42, she missed the maximum starting age of 39.
Annual salaries for processing coordinators range between $35,265 and $51,103, far less than what agents earn. The Biden administration’s 2022 budget proposal says the position costs 18.5% less than an average agent.
Border Patrol started seriously considering job creation in 2014. The discussion intensified when agents were pulled again in 2019 by a large number of asylum-seeking families and children, many of whom were from Central America.
It gets a little repetitive and a little frustrating that there’s no other option, right? said Gloria Chavez, the head of the Border Paso’s El Paso sector, who was deeply involved in the effort. Who else can we depend on to help us with this task? So that’s when the conversation started.
Chavez said the agency also expects the new positions to recruit future agents, including more women, than only 5% of agents.
The processing coordinators are going to work hand-in-hand with our agents in the central processing center, and they’re going to learn a lot of different skills, build their confidence for everyone, and then they’re probably going to get those jobs. want to apply, she said.
Melanie Garcia, 24, quit her job as a prison guard at a psychiatric unit in Lubbock, Texas, to work as a processing coordinator at the Border Patrol Holding Center in El Paso. She wanted to be closer to the agency and to the family. She said the job was a really good move to become an agent.
Atanasio reported from El Paso, Texas.
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