Sinema, Portman Introduce Bipartisan Bill Boosting Border Patrol Workforce

Aug 4, 2022

Senators’ bipartisan legislation improves Border Patrol staffing levels by addressing hiring and retention issues

WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Senator Rob Portman (Ohio) introduced the Border Patrol Enhancement Act – bipartisan legislation that establishes a Border Patrol reserve program, improves annual training requirements, and addresses hiring and retention issues by increasing the minimum pay rates for Border Patrol agents.
“Border Patrol must maintain a strong workforce to secure the border, protect our communities, and ensure the fair and humane treatment of migrants. Border Patrol does not have the staffing or resources to meet that goal – our bipartisan legislation addresses these issues to adequately support Border Patrol as they protect Arizona communities,” said Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Chair of the Senate Border Management Subcommittee.
“Every time I’ve visited with Border Patrol, they have made it clear that they need increased funding to recruit and retain agents. At a time when our southern border crisis is heading towards a catastrophe, we must provide Border Patrol with the tools and resources they need to do their jobs. That’s why I am pleased to introduce this bipartisan legislation to address recruitment and retention challenges by authorizing a raise for agents, and create a Border Patrol Reserve to provide the support our Border Patrol agents need as the influx of unlawful migrants and illicit narcotics continues to worsen,” said Senator Rob Portman, Republican Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
“I remain extremely grateful to Border Patrol agents for staying focused on our national security, even in this season of chaos on the border,” said Senator James Lankford. “Biden continues to encourage illegal border crossers to enter the US, and our Border Patrol stand between US citizens and people from 150 countries coming into our nation, potentially connected to the Mexican cartels or terrorist organizations worldwide. I’ve heard from Border Patrol directly that morale is low because their hands are tied when trying to enforce the law, which makes it difficult to recruit and retain the best and brightest. We must ensure the Border Patrol has the people and tools they need to do their job and the incentives to bring in the best people. Our national security depends on it.” 
“Border Patrol agents put their lives on the line every day to secure the border and keep our communities safe. Our bipartisan bill will give the hardworking men and women of the Border Patrol the support, resources, and pay raises they deserve. We’ll keep working with Republicans and Democrats to ensure that our law enforcement has the tools needed to recruit and retain agents so we can ensure a secure, fair, and orderly process at the border,” said Senator Mark Kelly.
“On behalf of the men and women of the National Border Patrol Council, I want to thank and applaud Senators Portman, Sinema, Lankford and Kelly for their leadership in introducing legislation that will secure critical resources in an effort to secure our borders,” said Brandon Judd, President, National Border Patrol Council. “The National Border Patrol Council staunchly supports this legislation because we are currently witnessing unprecedented public safety and public health crises, with record numbers of Americans dying of drug overdoses and record numbers of individuals defying our laws with no consequences and entering our country illegally, oftentimes undetected. This legislation will dramatically enhance the ability to recruit and retain highly professional Border Patrol Agents and invest in these Agents who risk their lives trying to secure our border every day. The ongoing lawlessness and the tragic loss of lives cannot continue and we urge the Senate to consider and pass the Border Patrol Enhancement Act immediately.”

Sinema’s bipartisan legislation improves Border Patrol staffing by establishing a Border Patrol Reserve program, sets a staffing level for Border Patrol based on the needs outlined in a Personnel Requirements Determination Model, and increases pay rates for Border Patrol agents.
The Tucson and Yuma sectors have had recruiting and retention problems for years, and increasing migrant interactions diverts Border Patrol agents from core duties to migrant processing. Temporary duty assignments, which help the Tucson and Yuma Sectors maintain appropriate staffing, help, but when additional sectors are overwhelmed by migrant arrivals, it will not be possible to sufficiently staff all sectors.
The record number of migrant arrivals on the Southwest Border will add further strain on Border Patrol in securing the border, protecting border communities, and treating migrants fairly and humanely. In June, Sinema toured the San Ysidro Port of Entry to see how port modernization strengthens border security and received a briefing from the Region 9 Southwest Coordination Center on their coordination with Arizona border communities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
During a recent Senate hearing, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas expressed support for Sinema’s recently-introduced Bipartisan Border Solutions Act with Republican Senator John Cornyn (Texas) that improves the federal government’s response to the border crisis, reduces the impact on local border communities, ensures migrants are treated fairly and humanely, and improves management and security along the border.
Sinema cosponsored the bipartisan Securing America’s Ports of Entry Act – legislation that boosts the number of U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel at ports of entry, increasing border security while facilitating legal trade and travel.
In May, partnering with a bipartisan group of senators, Sinema introduced legislation that improves border security by combating cartels and other transnational criminal organizations’ (TCOs) human smuggling and drug trafficking operations.