Border Patrol recruiting to hire women as agents

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

US Border Patrol: Female agents wanted

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- The U.S. Border Patrol is on a hiring spree for a very specific type of agent: a female one.

Only 5 percent of its approximately 21,000 agents around the country are women, and the agency has long called this a problem.

It is especially troublesome in the Southwest, where nearly 120,000 women were caught crossing the border illegally in the fiscal year that ended Oct. 31. That's a significant increase from fiscal year 2011, when about 43,000 women were apprehended. The agency's southwest region includes Arizona, Texas and California.

But while the number of women who cross the border has grown, the number of female border agents has remained low.

That's a concern for Juanita Molina, executive director of the Border Action Network, an immigrant rights group in Tucson.

"Most women are victimized by men, so having a first responder who's a man inherently creates mistrust," Molina said.

Six in 10 female migrants are sexually assaulted while crossing the border, according to Amnesty International. Many more become sick or lost while crossing.

The Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue team is responsible for rescuing lost or injured migrants and administering first aid. In Tucson, only one of the agents on this elite team is a woman. Nationwide, four are.

The Border Patrol responds to hundreds of cases each year of immigrants who need to be rescued while crossing the desert. The agency conducted 509 rescues in the 2014 fiscal year in the Tucson sector, although that's a much smaller figure than in past years.

The Rio Grande Valley Sector in Texas has seen the largest number of migrants come through. Almost 49 percent of migrants who are caught crossing in Rio Grande Valley are women.

Last summer, the agency was overwhelmed by a surge in unaccompanied minors and women with children who were crossing via Texas and turning themselves in to the Border Patrol.

Most were from Central America, and many were released with the expectation that they would report back to immigration officials within 15 days. Others were sent to a detention center for women and families in Artesia, New Mexico. Immigration officials keep children only in detention centers that are specifically for families.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Border Patrol's parent agency, acquired a federal exemption to recruit strictly female agents.

Tucson Sector spokeswoman Shevannah Wray says at most federal law enforcement agencies, 15 percent of sworn officers are women.

She says one other reason for the need for female agents is for search purposes. Although the Border Patrol allows male agents to search female migrants, it prefers that women do so, Wray said.

She added the quest for more female agents comes down to one simple thing: "to diversify our workforce and to make it reflect the workforce of the whole United States."

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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US Border Patrol seeks more female agents

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- The U.S. Border Patrol has announced it is recruiting new agents, but they must be women.

The agency says it is in dire need of more female agents as the number of women migrants caught crossing the border illegally has surged.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the parent agency of the Border Patrol, has obtained a federal exemption that allows it to target only women in its recruitment efforts.

Only five percent of the approximate 21,000 agents nationwide are women.

In Tucson, the elite team that rescues lost or injured migrants in the Arizona desert has only one woman. A total of four serve on the team nationally.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- The Border Patrol is recruiting women to be hired as agents to serve in U.S. states bordering Mexico.

The Arizona Daily Star reports that Customs and Border Protection sought and obtained an Office of Personnel Management waiver to restrict a 10-day recruitment announcement to women only. The announcement period ends Wednesday.

Only 5 percent of the nearly 21,000 current Border Patrol agents are women. The agency wants its ranks to be more diverse and also faces to screen more females entering the country.

The 10-day recruitment push doesn't specify a number of positions allotted to women but the agency wants to hire 1,600 agents through the current fiscal year.

The number of female border crossers reached nearly 121,000 in the last fiscal year, up 173 percent from 2011.