Border Security Hiring Spree

If there is one beneficial outcome to illegal immigration, it’s the creation of more jobs for the Border Patrol. With an economy falling down for the count and America dishing out bills left and right to haul it back to its feet, there is a bit of bright news for our staggering financial system.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, with a renewed interest in border protection, is creating a multibillion-dollar web of border security jobs. The jobs are aimed at individuals with a strong interest in working to catch terrorists, illegal immigrants and smugglers along the U.S.-Mexico border. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBPA) primarily handle the jobs, which are based on the borders of Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas.
The CBPA is currently in the middle of the biggest expansion in its history, working to fulfill a commitment that President Bush made to hire 6,000 new Border Patrol officers a year from 2006 to 2008. With 17,700 new recruits hired, the CBPA has 300 spots left to fill. In order to do so, it held recruiting fairs in so-called “non-traditional” hiring areas like Albany, New York and New Jersey on Nov. 15.
The hiring storm is a welcome advent for many in the currently crippled American economy. Why? Surprisingly, there is good money in being part of the Border Patrol. BP recruits earn $36,000 to $46,000 in their first year, and are given the possibility of earning $70,000 a year within their first three years, according to an article on timesunion.com. Beyond that, there are ample opportunities to move onto higher-paying government jobs. The U.S. Border Patrol has a 12 percent annual turnover rate that is related mainly to retiring agents and agents transferring to other federal law enforcement jobs.
Of course, not just anybody can walk into the CBPA and sign up to be an agent. Candidates are required to complete an exhaustive screening process, which includes a written exam and a structured interview, a language aptitude or Spanish proficiency test, as well as a physical fitness exam (it’s not all standing around waving cars in, after all) and medical examination.
The U.S. Border Patrol is a part of the Department of Homeland Security, and as such agents must enroll in a 55-day basic training program, which only comes after successfully finishing a Spanish proficiency test at the academy. Anyone who doesn’t pass the test is mandated to attend a 40-day “Spanish immersion course.” It all goes down in Artesia, New Mexico.
Of course, being a Border Patrol agent isn’t a risk-free job. In an interview featured on the Daily Gazette’s Web site, Walter Harwell, a 30-year-old BP agent and spokesman, admits there is some danger when on the clock, due to vehicle accidents during high-speed chases and, sometimes, gunfights with criminals who are often drug dealers smuggling narcotics and illegal aliens across the border.
In addition, Harwell told the Daily Gazette that U.S. Border Patrol agents along the southern border often work alone, covering territories as spacious as 90 miles all by themselves.
With our economy in the crapper, keeping illegal immigration as light as possible is an important issue. Most illegal immigrants try to cross into America not only to find a better life outside the corrupt Mexican government, but also to find work in order to support their families. Many employers hire illegal aliens to work low-end jobs as a source of cheap labor, and some even exploit their status as illegal aliens.
As such, illegals in America spend a fair amount of their earnings supporting their families south of the border. In a sense, America gives a large amount of money to Mexico annually. No one should oppose people supporting their poverty-stricken families, not in the least, but when it starts to take a toll on our country, it has to be kept in check.
America can’t be a super nation and aid other countries unless it puts its own interests first. To say illegal immigration has not affected our economy would be silly, but at the very least it has given rise to thousands of new jobs to help people through these hard times.

AE Anteater is a third-year English major. He can be reached at emailremoved@uci.edu.