A bill aimed at preventing corruption among border agents and keeping drug cartels from infiltrating the ranks of U.S. Customs and Border Protection has moved out of committee and will now be considered by the full Senate.
The bill, S. 3243, also known as the Anti Border Corruption Act, passed out of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee on Wednesday. Introduced in April by Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., the legislation requires CBP to administer polygraph examinations to all applicants seeking a law enforcement position within the agency, among other measures.
As previously reported by CIR, officials are concerned about an increased risk of infiltration and border corruption. The Department of Homeland Security Inspector General's office launched 576 investigations on allegations of improper conduct by CBP employees last year, according to the bill.
Less than 15 percent of applicants receive such a screening, according to CBP's internal affairs office, although the agency's policy is for all applicants to sit for a polygraph examination. The new law, if passed, would also require the agency to complete periodic background re-investigations of employees.
As of March 2010, the agency had a backlog of about 10,000 re-investigations. The backlog could nearly double to 19,000 by the end of the fiscal year if CBP doesn't get more money, according to the bill.
In introducing the legislation Pryor cited a CIR/Washington Post story that detailed how turf battles by the various agencies that police border corruption can have a negative effect on investigations.