An expanded curriculum at the Border Patrol Academy teaches new agents to be “humanitarians first,” said Dan Harris Jr., head of the school in Artesia, N.M. Use-of-force training increased from 58 to 94 hours, with an emphasis on less lethal methods of force.
Harris told CNN that a new curriculum prepares recruits to defend the border but also ensure safe encounters with the more than 1 million illegal immigrants Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) apprehends each year, most of whom speak only Spanish.
Extended from three to six months, the new program includes not only law courses and firearms training, but physical fitness, vehicle skills, and task-focused Spanish language training, even for Latino trainees. Latinos now make up half of all field agents.
The beefed-up CBP training program follows a congressional mandate to boost the number of border agents from 19,400 to 21,370. President Donald Trump’s January 2017 executive order went even further, calling for an additional 5,000 CBP agents and 10,000 recruits for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. With an average class numbering 20-some graduates, hundreds of new CBP classes are needed.
During June and July, agents patrolling along the U.S. southwestern border prevented 42 smuggling attempts and rescued 406 people, saving them from possible death due to sizzling summer heat. U.S. Border Patrol Acting Chief Carla L. Provost spoke of the benefits of improved training for CBP agents: “These rescues are a result of stepped-up enforcement at our immigration checkpoints coupled with our search and rescue efforts that are key to preventing unnecessary loss of life.” —R.H.