U.S. Border Patrol losing agents to TSA, security threatened

| Monday, September 30, 2002

The U.S. Border Patrol is facing a 15 percent attrition rate that could increase to more than 20 percent by the end of the year, The Washington Times reports.

The turnover threatens efforts to secure the nation's borders - particularly along the 1,940-mile border with Mexico, where agents are reportedly leaving in "staggering" numbers, according to veteran agents who spoke with the newspaper.

Among other factors, agents are reportedly dissatisfied with the pay and many have gone to the Transportation Security Administration as air marshals, lured by salaries that average about $52,000 a year to start and can go as high as $80,000 depending on experience.

Under new rules, Border Patrol agents start at $30,000 to $35,000 and have a 90 percent chance of being assigned to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Meanwhile, Congress continues to debate the Homeland Security Bill, which would separate the Border Patrol from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. That bill, as currently written, would eliminate some of the protections given to civil service employees.