WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, today examined recently announced plans by the Department of Homeland Security to hire 15,000 additional agents—specifically probing the decision to move forward despite the agency consistently failing to meet staffing goals in the past.
The hiring surge, along with billions in requested funding for a concrete physical barrier along the border, is planned to take place despite no cost-benefit analysis by the government suggesting that these plans will accomplished goals stated by the Department of Homeland Security.
“Who did this analysis? Why don’t we restructure it?” McCaskill asked. “We can’t even hire the number of people that are currently authorized. It doesn’t seem to me that either the wall or the number of people that are requested under the budget has undergone the kind of scrutiny that it would in the private sector—the kind of analysis to really determine what is the most efficient and effective resources to help you all—to give you the support you need.”
The Trump Administration recently issued two executive orders which, in addition to calling for increased immigration enforcement and the construction of a border wall with Mexico, also require Customs and Border Protection to hire 5,000 additional agents, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hire 10,000 additional agents. However, the executive orders do not call for additional staff along ports of entry—which generated $46 billion from duties, taxes and fees—and are among the most common smuggling routes for illicit drugs entering the United States. This is particularly concerning as recent reports have indicated low staffing levels at ports of entry along the southern border.
Witness for the hearing included Brandon Judd, President of the National Border Patrol Council, Anthony M. Reardon, National President of the National Treasury Employees Union, and Chris Crane, President of the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council.
McCaskill had invited Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly (or a designee) to attend the hearing, but the Secretary declined the invitation or to provide a substitute. This marked the second consecutive hearing in which the agency, when invited, declined to provide a witness. No representatives from the Department of Homeland Security have publicly appeared before the committee this Congress despite multiple requests from McCaskill.
In conjunction with the hearing, McCaskill released the attached Fact Sheet providing information related to the Administration’s proposed hiring surge.