During a visit to the U.S-Mexico border last month, President Bush stated that “securing the border is a critical part of a strategy for comprehensive immigration reform.” Yesterday, Bush claimed that his administration had already “stepped up efforts to improve border security,” touting his attempts to “double the size of the Border Patrol.”
Today, however, such commitments ring hollow as Govs. Janet Napolitano (D-AZ) and Bill Richardson (D-NM) have found that the defense contractor DynCorp has been authorized by the Bush Administration to hire as many as 120 “current and former U.S. Border Patrol agents.”
DynCorp “is offering $134,100 for a one-year stay, plus a $25,000 signing bonus,” a reported 70% pay raise. Further, “[t]he first $90,000 in income is tax free, and housing and food are free.”
Richardson and Napolitano both expressed outrage about the plan, saying in a letter to Bush that the plan “makes no sense“:
[A]t a time when violence is once again flaring up on our own border, it makes no sense for the United States State Department to empower a company to hire away as many as 120 veteran Border Patrol agents to serve as mentors to train Iraqis… We should be focused on supporting our nation’s security efforts along the Mexican and Canadian border instead of hampering [the Border Patrol] by sending our best agents to a war zone in Iraq.
The Bush administration’s attempts to “skim off Border Patrol agents” for duty in Iraq is made worse in light of the recent decision to withdraw half of the 6,000 National Guard troops temporarily stationed at the border.
The Bush administration had promised to replace the Guardsmen with an “equal number of new Border Patrol agents,” but “fewer than 350 new agents have been hired.”