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Trump administration spent more than $13 million to hire 2 border agents – ThinkProgress


According to a scathing report released by the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, the federal government doesn’t have much to show for its costly effort to increase border security staffing at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The report, first released last Thursday, details how the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency has essentially mismanaged a a multimillion dollar hiring contract ordered to meet the demands of President Donald Trump’s crackdown on immigration.

Last January, Trump signed an executive order directing DHS to amp up the number of agents on staff. In response, CBP granted Accenture Federal Services —  which HuffPost notes is “a subsidiary of the global Accenture consulting company headquartered in the tax haven of Dublin” — a $297 million contract to hire 7,500 CBP officers, Border Patrol agents, and Air and Marine Interdiction Agents.

But according to the inspector general report, Accenture is “nowhere near” their hiring goals and CBP “risks wasting millions of taxpayer dollars on a hastily approved contract that is not meeting its proposed performance expectations.”

An audit conducted by the federal government shows it has already paid Accenture $13.6 million, but as of October 1, had only processed two job offers — largely by using CBP’s own resources.

CBP has contested the report, arguing the $13 million was spent on creating a hiring process that helped move thousands of job applications into a pipeline. The inspector general responded in the original OIG report by noting that “neither CBP nor Accenture can track applicants recruited by Accenture” and therefore “question the veracity of CBP management’s assertion.”

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the ranking Democratic member of the Homeland Security Committee, said in a statement that the OIG report demonstrates CBP has little to show for their wasteful spending habits.

“CBP cannot simply farm out its hiring to a consulting firm to the tune of $300 million without addressing systemic problems at the agency,” Thompson said. “CBP faces high attrition rates across the component. Worse yet, the Trump Administration has made CBP a polarizing organization in its quest to demonize migrants seeking a better life.”

The DHS OIG comes as the administration faces criticism for deploying U.S. military personnel at the U.S.-Mexico border to respond to a caravan of Central American migrants, many of whom are fleeing violence in their countries of origin and plan to legally seek asylum in the United States.

The Pentagon announced Monday it will soon be withdrawing a few thousand troops from the border so they can be home by the holidays. A spokesperson for the Department of Defense told reporters that about 5,200 service members are currently deployed along the southern border, a number that is expected to go down to 3,000 by next week. He would not comment on how many troops will stay on through January 31, the return date set by Defense Secretary James Mattis.

The Pentagon estimates that the decision to deploy thousands of active military members at the border costs about $72 million. In exchange, troops are being tasked with shoveling manure, changing tires, and carrying out various other chores that don’t include border control.

All the while, the Trump administration is demanding even more money to secure the border. Trump has demanded $5 billion to fund portions of a border wall he previously claimed Mexico would pay for.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) are set to meet with the president late Tuesday and reportedly offer a compromise of $1.3 billion in funding for border security.

In a series of five Tuesday morning tweets, Trump addressed the meeting, reiterating his stance that the wall should be built.

If Democrats don’t provide the votes Trump needs to secure funding for the wall, he suggests the military will just do it themselves because “they know how important it is!”

The fight over border wall funding is at the forefront of an ongoing budget debate to prevent a government shutdown. The deadline to strike a deal is December 21.

 





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