The nation's biggest federal law enforcement agency is looking to beef up its ranks to from 16,200 to 18,000 agents but only 1 percent of its roster is black, The New York Times reported Monday. To add diversity the agency launched a recruiting blitz in cities such as Memphis aimed at convincing black youngsters they should sign up for duty in the U.S. Southwest, where there is little in the way of black culture.
Border Patrol officials told the newspaper they have no set quotas for black recruits but admits it has only 158 black agents. The recruiters are emphasizing that service with the Border Patrol doesn't require a college degree or even a high school diploma and can pay $70,000 after just a few years.
The union representing the agents, however, suspects the Border Patrol is lowering its quality standards to fill its ranks.
"It's one thing to get to 18,000," union head T.J. Bonner told the Times. "It's another to sustain it with quality people."