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 U.S. Border Patrol by the end of December 2008. This unprecedented 48 percent increase over 2 years raises concerns about the ability of the Border Patrol's basic training program to train these new agents. This testimony is based on a recent report for the ranking member of this subcommittee on the content, quality, and cost of the Border Patrol's basic training program for new agents and addresses (1) the extent to which the Border Patrol's basic training program exhibits the attributes of an effective training program and the changes to the program since September 11, 2001; (2) the cost to train a new agent and how this compares to the costs of other similar law enforcement basic training programs; and (3) any plans the Border Patrol has developed or considered to improve the efficiency of its basic training program. To address these issues, GAO reviewed relevant documents; observed classroom training and exercises at the Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico; assessed the methodologies of training cost estimates; and interviewed Border Patrol officials.
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