‘Could Not Hire Fast Enough’: Number Of Border Patrol Agents Plummets Under Biden

January 18, 2024 4:25 PM ET

The number of Border Patrol staff enforcing the southern border has dropped under the Biden administration, even while illegal immigration continues to rise.

The total number of Border Patrol staff has fallen from 16,614 in 2021 to 16,234 in 2023, according to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General (IG) report
released last week. At the same time, illegal immigration has rapidly increased since President Joe Biden took office in 2021 as his administration continues to face criticisms for failing to adequately enforce the border.

“Staffing continues to be an issue for current Southwest border operations,” the DHS IG report says. “One official stated his component ‘could not hire fast enough.’”

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The number of Border Patrol staff rose under the former Trump administration, reaching 16,806 staffers in 2020 compared to 16,534 in 2018, according to the IG report. The number started to decline consistently after President Joe Biden took office in 2021.

“We’re having a mass retirement exodus and recruitment is very low,” an anonymous Customs and Border Protection (CBP) source previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation. Border Patrol has been forced to work with outside partners to maintain operations at the southern border because of the staffing crisis, according to the IG report.

Amid the staffing crisis, Border Patrol has loosened standards for applicant requirements, allowing agents to have tattoos or different hairstyles. Border Patrol has also started offering a $10,000 bonus incentive to new recruits if they finish training requirements and an additional $10,000 if they agree to work in a “hard-to-fill duty location.”

Illegal immigration has spiked under the Biden administration. Migrant encounters at the southern border have risen at an “unprecedented” rate from 400,000 in fiscal year 2018 to 1.7 million in 2021 and over 2.2 million in 2022, according to the IG report. Over half a million migrants crossed the border in 2023 without ever being apprehended by Border Patrol, sometimes informally referred to as “gotaways.”