Two years after President Trump signed orders to hire 15,000 new border agents and immigration officers, the administration has spent tens of millions of dollars in the effort — but has thousands more vacancies than when it began.
In a sign of the difficulties, Customs and Border Protection allocated $60.7 million to Accenture Federal Services, a management consulting firm, as part of a $297-million contract to recruit, vet and hire 7,500 border officers over five years, but the company has produced only 33 new hires so far.
The president’s promised hiring surge steadily lost ground even as he publicly hammered away at the need for stiffer border security, warned of a looming migrant invasion and shut down parts of the government for five weeks over his demands for $5.7 billion from Congress for a border wall.
The Border Patrol gained a total of 120 agents in 2018, the first net gain in five years.
But the agency has come nowhere close to adding more than 2,700 agents annually, the rate that Kevin McAleenan, commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, has said is necessary to meet Trump’s mandated 26,370 border agents by the end of 2021.
“The hiring surge has not begun,” the inspector general’s office at the Department of Homeland Security concluded last November.