TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - As President Trump calls for 5,000 more Border Patrol agents, sectors nationwide are struggling to meet their hiring quotas as is.
In Arizona, Border Patrol agents say they haven't received any guidance about how many more people need to be hired.
All this comes as U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports the number of illegal crossings is going down.
So far this year, more than 400,000 people have been caught along the southwest border with Mexico.
Yet agents saw a drop of 40 percent from January to February, which is unusual for this time of year.
Typically, there's an increase between 10 and 20 percent in the same time frame.
Here in southern Arizona, there are about 4,000 agents for more than 260 miles of border along Arizona.
Tucson Sector Border Patrol is set to hold a handful of recruitment events this week.
Agent Vicente Paco says it takes about a couple of hundred applications just to hire one agent.
Tucson News Now took a ride with agents along the international border in Douglas, to find out what it takes to get the job.
Agents say the hiring process can be rigorous and lengthy and usually takes about 18 months.
According to Paco, many agents get weeded out during the lie detector portion.
Applicants also go through a series of written, language and health tests, as well as an up to a 10-year background investigation.
An internal memo shows the Trump Administration could be looking to do away with that requirement to beef up hiring.
Some local lawmakers are also trying to do away with some of the tough hiring standards.
But agents here in southern Arizona say they're still looking to recruit the best.
"Doing the right thing when no one is looking. You know, being able to still do our job in the remote areas of the desert and you know, keep America safe by securing our border," Paco said.
Agents often work by themselves in the hot and rugged desert.
Some say they enjoy the adventure.
Christopher Sullivan, an agent with Tucson Sector Border Patrol says the job always different.
"Something could happen one day, and it could be totally different the next day," he said.
But it can also be a dangerous one.
"Sometimes what we do as agents is, we have to interdict and arrest a group of 10-15 individuals by ourselves. Support and back-up could be miles away and we come in contact with the criminal element too."
The starting pay for an agent is about $42,000 per year.
CBP offers several incentives for veterans and recent college grads including debt repayment.
For more information on applying, CLICK HERE: http://bit.ly/2lHbv3g
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