As the Trump administration prepares to hire thousands of border and immigration agents, two Senate Democrats have filed a bill that would make lie detector tests mandatory at both agencies.
The bill would require U.S. Customs and Border Protection to continue testing all incoming agents, a month after the House voted to allow some law enforcement and military candidates to skip the test.
Additionally, the measure would mandate polygraph testing at Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It would subject agents at both Homeland Security agencies to continued testing on “a targeted and random basis.”
Sens. Richard J. Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, both of Illinois, said they filed the bill in response to President Trump’s request for funding to hire thousands of officers to both agencies. Polygraph tests are already routine in the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.
“Our nation’s border and immigration enforcement officers must be held to the same standard of integrity as other federal law enforcement,” Durbin said in a statement. “This legislation would require just that.”
President Trump has called for an additional 5,000 border agents and 10,000 ICE agents. In June, the House passed a bill that would allow Customs and Border Protection to more speedily hire agents by waiving the mandatory lie detector test for applicants with military and law enforcement backgrounds.
Backers said the bill would alleviate staffing shortages at CBP, but critics worry it could lead to a spike in corruption cases. Hundreds of CBP employees have been arrested for misconduct since fiscal 2005, prompting Congress to mandate polygraph tests for the agency in 2010.
Federal officials note that the corruption cases represent a small fraction of their overall workforce, but lawmakers say the cases are disturbing nonetheless.
Some Democrats, particularly those from the southern border, have supported adding flexibility to the hiring process.
The unions representing ICE and CBP employees have been vocal in their support for Trump’s policies and endorsed his candidacy for president.