President Obama has signed into law a measure that requires that all prospective Customs and Border Protection employees undergo a polygraph test.
It seems like a no-brainer, especially considering that federal officials who investigate corruption within the agency say that polygraph tests are an effective tool for weeding out bad seeds.
Even law enforcement agencies throughout Arizona are required to conduct polygraphs on potential cops, according to AZ POST rules. (The Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training board establishes the minimum hiring and training requirements for law enforcement officers.)
U.S. Senator Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas) who introduced the Anti-Border Corruption Act of 2010, told New Times that Customs and Border Protection officials "should have been doing it all along, but they were not complying with their own rules and regulations."
Now, CPB has a two-year window to start conducting pre-employment polys on all job candidates. The new law also forces CBP to clear a backlog of 19,000 agents and officers who should have undergone periodic background checks. Agency officials have about six months to at least initiative those follow-up background checks on individuals with security-sensitive jobs.
Lawmakers argue that frequent background checks are vital because even if a Border Patrol agent joined the agency with all the best intentions, a follow-up check would reveal tell-tale signs that he or she has succumb to corruption.
For instance, does an agent pulling in $50,000 a year all of sudden have several luxury cars and multiple beach-front houses? And yes, some have been stupid enough to splurge their new found "wealth" in very obvious ways.
Consider Margarita Crispin, a former Customs and Border Protection officer serving 20 years in prison for working with drug cartels. She was a former cop recruited by drug cartel leaders to join CBP and look the other way when drug-packed vehicles passed through her lane.
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When she landed on the FBI's radar, their reports reveal that "not long after she was hired, Crispin -- who lived meagerly in El Paso -- acquired two expensive homes in Mexico, along with several luxury vehicles, but she attempted to cover her tracks with straw buyers."
As the feds continue to ramp up the number of agents along the U.S.-Mexico border, leaders of drug cartels have found that bribery can be an effective way around those increased security measures. Drug traffickers skillfully zero in on corruptible agents and dangle before them money, cars, jewelry -- even sex -- to lure them into a life of crime.
It becomes an even easier ploy when federal agencies have not been thoroughly vetting the men and women they hire to stand guard along the U.S. borders.
Read "Culture of Cruelty," a New Times article that delves into other problems within the immigration-enforcement agency.