Homeland Security: Information on Training New Border Patrol Agents

GAO-07-540R Published: Mar 30, 2007. Publicly Released: Mar 30, 2007.
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The U.S. Border Patrol is responsible for patrolling 8,000 miles of the land and coastal borders of the United States to detect and prevent the illegal entry of aliens and contraband, including terrorists and weapons of mass destruction. Although the Border Patrol apprehends hundreds of thousands of people entering the country illegally each year, several hundreds of thousands more individuals successfully enter the country illegally and undetected each year. In May 2006, the President called for comprehensive immigration reform that included strengthening control of the country's borders by, among other things, adding 6,000 new agents to the Border Patrol by the end of December 2008. This would increase the total number of agents from 12,349 to 18,319, an unprecedented 48 percent increase over the next 2 years. The Border Patrol plans to add these new agents to the southwest border while transferring up to 1,000 experienced agents to the northern border. Concerned about the ability of the Border Patrol's basic training program to accommodate this significant increase in Border Patrol agent trainees, Congress requested that we provide information on the content, quality, and cost of the Border Patrol's basic training program for new agents. This report addresses the following questions: To what extent does the Border Patrol's basic training program for new border patrol agents exhibit the attributes of an effective training program and how has the training program changed since September 11, 2001? How much does it cost to train a new Border Patrol agent? How does the Border Patrol's basic training program and cost compare to those of other similar federal and nonfederal law enforcement basic training programs? What plans, if any, has the Border Patrol developed or considered to improve the efficiency of its basic training program?

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