U.S. Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) met the goal to hire 6,000 Border Patrol agents across the U.S. by year's end. CBP reached its target weeks ahead of schedule and now employs more than 18,000 agents. 

In May 2006, President George W. Bush set the goal of increasing the Border Patrol by 50 percent from its then 12,000 agents. Today, more than 18,000 agents are part of the Border Patrol, which guards the southwestern, northern, and coastal borders of the U.S. between the official ports of entry.

"I'm tremendously proud of all the hard work and determination put into recruiting, vetting, hiring and training these agents who will secure the nation's borders," said CBP Commissioner W. Ralph Basham. "I welcome all those who've joined our ranks and accepted the challenge of protecting the homeland by securing our nation's borders."

The Border Patrol made measurable personnel and operational gains at both the northern and southern borders as a result of the enhanced number of agents in the field, along with implementing better technology and training and increased infrastructure.

More agents on the frontlines have proven to be a deterrent to illegal activity on the border, which is reflected in recent statistics and news accounts. Since the hiring goal was issued in 2006, nationwide apprehensions have decreased by more than 44 percent.

Since June 2006, CBP implemented an innovative, far-reaching recruiting effort to inform potential applicants about the opportunity to join the Border Patrol. Recruiting initiatives included:

  • NASCAR Nationwide Series Racing #28 car sponsorship;
  • Professional Bull Riders, Inc. partnership;
  • Minority Recruitment Strike Team project;
  • Recruiting website launch at www.BorderPatrol.gov;
  • Simultaneous hiring events across the country in under-recruited areas; and
  • Advertising and recruiting at U.S. military installations in the continental U.S. and abroad.

Military veterans are competitive candidates for this opportunity to protect America's borders as they make up 25 percent of CBP's workforce and 23 percent of newly hired agents.

Applications came from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, other U.S. territories and overseas. More than 10,000 applications came from the border states of California, Texas and Arizona.

The top five applicant recruiting locations outside the southwest were:
    1.    New York (1,691 applicants)
    2.    Florida (1,310 applicants)
    3.    Michigan (819 applicants)
    4.    Puerto Rico (559 applicants)
    5.    New Jersey (553 applicants)
For the past two and a half years, CBP received an average of 3,500 applicants per week. Online applications soared to a high of 6,000 per week during the weeks following the Buckeye Blitz that took place in Ohio's seven largest cities and the Buffalo Blitz that launched five simultaneous events throughout New York and Pennsylvania.

In January 2008, the Minority Recruitment Strike Team project launched to promote CBP's commitment to diversity in its workforce through public awareness and recruiting efforts. Efforts to reach underrepresented groups prompted national outreach to historically black colleges and universities, urban leagues, churches and civic organizations.

Currently, the Border Patrol is staffed with more than 54 percent minorities, with Hispanics accounting for approximately 52 percent of the agents. Women make up 5 percent and Blacks comprise approximately 1 percent of agents.

Successful Border Patrol agent candidates complete a rigorous screening process, which includes a written examination and structured interview, language aptitude or Spanish proficiency test, along with a physical fitness test and medical examination.

Training is provided and includes a 55-day basic training program upon successfully passing a Spanish proficiency exam in the academy; all others will complete a 40-day Spanish immersion course upon completing basic training. All training is conducted at the Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico.

Academy training is supplemented by a 12-week National Field Training Officer Program, and a minimum of two months on-the-job training with a journeyman level agent. Intern performance is monitored by both journeyman agents and supervisors through the 24th month of the internship.