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Lengthy Politico story examines the Border Patrol

A new 11,000 word article in Politico’s magazine entitled “The Green Monster” provides an in-depth look at the U.S. Border Patrol’s growth since September 11, 2001, and the problems that have accompanied this growth, particularly with respect to increasing corruption and use-of-force issues among Border Patrol agents.

The article is well-researched, and relies on interviews with nearly all of the senior DHS and CBP leaders from the past decade. It highlights a number of critical organizational and policy issues that need to be addressed by DHS and CBP leadership, and by Congress, including (a) the Border Patrol’s insular culture, even within CBP; (b) constraints on CBP’s investigative authorities, a byproduct of the CBP-ICE split when DHS was created; and (c) the impacts of not having a Senate-confirmed leader at CBP for the first 5+ years of the Obama Administration, until Gil Kerlikowske’s confirmation in March of this year. The article also serves as a stark warning about the folly of additional major increases to the size of the Border Patrol, as the 2013 Senate immigration bill would have required.

My only complaint about the story is that in pointing out these very real problems, it fails to adequately put into context the fact that the vast majority of Border Patrol agents are honorable and hardworking, carrying out a very difficult mission, often in harsh physical operating conditions. But overall, the story makes a number of important points and is worth reading in full.