To the dismay of many members of a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee, the official that the Homeland Security Department sent to testify about abuse of overtime pay had little to report on the matter during a hearing Nov. 20.
Members of the House and Senate from both parties introduced legislation Nov. 13 to reform the pay system for Border Patrol agents.
On Sept. 25, CBP announced a range of actions it has begun to take or plans to take to address use-of-force issues. Video cameras on Border Patrol agents and expanded basic training are among the possibilities. Eventually, CBP plans to pilot the use of cameras mounted on its agents and their vehicles to reduce use of force and also protect employees against false allegations.
The database that tracks complaints of misconduct by Customs and Border Protection employees doesn't include a category for allegations of use of force, the Homeland Security Department office of inspector general says. "As a result, we were unable to determine the total number of excessive force allegations and investigations involving CBP employees," the OIG says.
Integrity training for Customs and Border Protection employees is routine and standardized, though it's not yet part of a formal strategy that CBP called for in 2009, the Government Accountability Office says.
"In many cases, the ultralight, when it makes entry into the United States, does not land. It'll simply just kick out its cargo," which is usually marijuana, Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher said. "The endgame, if you will, has not been established in terms of what we can do to that particular ultralight."
The Senate voted 68-32 to end debate over its comprehensive immigration reform bill on June 27, with a final vote on the bill set for 4:00 p.m. The procedural vote followed the adoption, by a 69-29 vote, the previous day of a border security amendment sponsored by Sens. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).
The number of individuals apprehended by the Border Patrol for illegally crossing the border went up slightly in fiscal 2012 but still remains historically low. Customs and Border Protection statistics show (.pdf) that the Border Patrol apprehended 364,678 individuals--a number that apart from the previous fiscal year's total of 340,252, is the lowest since 1972, when the Border Patrol apprehended 396,495 illegal crossers.
Provisions for nonimmigrant visas will be the focus of immigration reform efforts when the Senate Judiciary Committee resumes its consideration of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act on May 14. On May 9, the committee voted on amendments to the border-security section of the bill.
The Border Patrol no longer believe that persistent surveillance across the entirety of the southwestern border is necessary to border control, a change from the prevalent thinking of a few years ago, Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher told a House panel April 17. There are sections along the southwestern border where "it's going to take you days to get to even a road," Fisher noted.