Overtime cap hampers border protection

Washington Times:

The U.S. Border Patrol has quietly reduced its current force of available agents along the U.S.-Mexico border by cutting the overtime hours they can work even as the Obama administration is asking Congress for hundreds of millions of dollars to hire 1,000 new agents, and Congress and the public are clamoring for beefed-up border security.

Several rank-and-file and senior agents told The Washington Times that a new overtime directive issued at the agency's Washington headquarters will limit their ability to get their jobs done, reduce coverage during peak smuggling periods and allow more criminals to avoid apprehension.

"By lowering the statutory overtime cap nearly 15 percent through the current administrative restrictions, top-level managers in the Border Patrol are depriving Americans of desperately needed coverage along the border at a time of national crisis," said T.J. Bonner, a veteran agent who heads the National Border Patrol Council, which represents all 15,000 of the agency's nonsupervisory agents.

Because of the nature of the job, most Border Patrol agents average at least two hours overtime a day and the agency, as part of its ongoing recruitment effort, has promised what it called an "excellent opportunity for overtime pay." The overtime cutback comes at a time that violence against the agents, according to Department of Homeland Security records, is up 31 percent this fiscal year.

More than 200 Border Patrol agents have been assaulted since October, mostly with rocks. On June 8, one agent fatally shot a 15-year-old during a rock attack.

...

DHS is over budget with several of its departments including the Border Patrol and ICE units. This is limiting the effectiveness of the department and suggest poor management on the part of the administration and the Democrats in Congress.

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