Recruiting border agents for Iraq
The pay is tempting, but the mission is tough — helping to stop illegal immigrants from crossing a long, rugged and remote border.That is an attractive salary for a very unattractive job. Iraq used to have some old border forts that look like something out of the middle ages. They are isolated locations which is not where you want to be when help is too far away. I suspect they will get some takers. The current dissatisfaction caused by US Attorney Johnny Sutton's bad judgment in prosecuting two border agents on the word of a drug mule who was given immunity has put some in a state of mind to take a deal like this.
But the border in question isn't between the United States and Mexico or Canada. It's in Iraq.
At a time when federal officials are stressing the need to beef up U.S. border security, the State Department has hired a firm to recruit veteran law officers who will serve as "mentors" and train Iraqis to guard their borders.
Critics of the plan acknowledge that the goal of hiring 120 officers won't seriously impair America's border security. They wonder, however, what it says about the government's priorities.
"Our Border Patrol agents are going to be saying, 'Goodbye, Arizona. Goodbye, Texas. Hello, Iraq,' " said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies.
DynCorp International launched the effort this month to recruit officers with border security experience. The job begins in May and lasts for one year, a spokesman for the company said.
The compensation includes more than $134,000 in salary, tax-free. There also is a $25,000 bonus for signing up in time for a May 5 training session.
But the recruiting drive comes as the Border Patrol is working to fulfill a mandate from President Bush to increase its ranks to 18,000 by the end of 2008.