U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is working on hiring more civilians for processing roles to help respond to the influx of asylum-seekers at the Southern border, with the agency hoping to free up more time for border patrol agents to devote to law enforcement.
The Associated Press reported Saturday that CBP graduated its first class of “processing coordinators" in January, with plans to eventually hire a total of 1,200.
According to a job description of the coordinator role posted on CBP’s website, responsibilities include receiving and processing detainees, transporting detainees to court proceedings and medical facilities, logging welfare checks and overseeing administrative paperwork.
Officials told the AP that the coordinator roles are especially necessary amid the surge in migrants over the past year, noting that agents currently spend around 40 percent of their time on administrative tasks and looking after people currently in custody instead of carrying out patrols and investigating potential smuggling activities.
Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council representing tens of thousands of CBP agents, told the news agency, “This is a very, very good program. It is a very necessary program.”
“It’s a program that will allow us to get more agents in the field,” he added.
The processing coordinator positions, which last for 13 months and are eligible to be renewed up to four years, have an average salary ranging from $35,265 to $51,103, according to the AP.
CBP first considered adding the job in 2014 amid a migrants spike at the U.S.-Mexico border, with discussions again coming up in 2019.
Gloria Chavez, chief of the Border Patrol’s El Paso sector, told the AP that she has been heavily involved in the new job program.
“It becomes a bit repetitious and a bit frustrating that there’s no other option, right?” she said. “Who else can we lean on to help us with this task? So that’s when the conversation started.”
The Hill has reached out to CBP for additional information.
Concerns regarding the ability of CBP officials to quickly process migrants have ramped up in recent days following reports of thousands of mostly Haitian migrants crowding under a bridge in the Texas border town of Del Rio.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) responded Saturday by saying it would be increasing deportation flights within the next 72 hours, as well as sending 400 additional CBP agents and officers to the Del Rio sector to "improve control of the area.”
The Biden administration has continued to expel migrants under the coronavirus-era Title 42 of the public health code, with DHS emphasizing Saturday that the administration “has reiterated that our borders are not open, and people should not make the dangerous journey" to the border.