New Border Patrol Processing Coordinators have Early Impact on Operations
After completing 36 training days and 288 training hours, the fifth class of the U.S. Border Patrol Processing Coordinators (BPPC) proudly received their badge and credentials on Sept. 21, 2021 excited for what they just accomplished as well as for the mission ahead.
This time last year, the position did not exist. One year later, there are now 160 BPPCs supporting operations in each of the nine southwest border sectors with more classes currently going through training and plans to grow to 1,200 over the next three years.
"You've made it through. It says a lot about you. Similar to your training, the job ahead will be tough, and you will have challenges. You now have what it takes to do this job with those alongside you," said Chief Patrol Agent of the U.S. Border Patrol Academy Jason Owens. "We need you."
Support for the New Position
The U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) is on the front line of the largest humanitarian crisis our country has ever seen, with all southwest Border Patrol stations operating over capacity. Overwhelmed by this influx, Border Patrol agents have been taken off their primary enforcement missions to assist, ensuring that all processing procedures required by law are carried out. Trained for the front-line security mission, many agents now find themselves performing administrative and caretaking responsibilities to include feeding infants, changing diapers, performing regular cell checks, providing transportation to different facilities and to medical appointments and distributing food and water to all. At the most intense times, more than 50% of agents were pulled off their front-line mission to attend to needs of those coming into the U.S. The agency quickly saw a need to establish a new position and took steps in fiscal year 2018 to get the needed support to make it happen.
After making the case to members of congress, the BPPC position was established with bipartisan support and marks the first brand new position created since the establishment of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in 2003. It was a massive undertaking to pull off, from getting the required congressional approval and funding, to building the specific job requirements and developing a new, quality training program. The first public announcement regarding this position was made in May 2019, followed by an open job announcement that was posted in December 2019.
Building the Program
Daily, BPPCs will encounter a wide range of people in USBP care and custody from infants, unaccompanied children, family units, to individuals with criminal records. The BPPCs not only ease the workload on agents, but also bring a humanitarian approach to the care of people in custody.
"With everything going on at the border today, we have a workforce prepared to provide care and safety for vulnerable populations, while our agents continue to operate on the front line," said CBP Office of Training and Development Assistant Commissioner Chris Hall.
The BPPC training program encompasses a wide range of academics and hands-on training that includes law, unconscious bias, processing, Spanish language, driving and transportation, first aid, physical training, tactics, and firearms. All trainees learn the Use of Force continuum as BPPCs are badged and credential professionals with the responsibility of proper judgement while carrying a firearm. Trainees also receive driving training, including transportation vans, so they are equipped to provide transportation needs as well as provide hospital watch for low-risk individuals in custody.
The training program was built and launched within a year's time, which is a huge accomplishment. "As with all of our training, we dedicated highly qualified instructors, seasoned course developers, and subject matter experts to build this program," said Hall. Medical professionals guided the first aid training, as well as informed what trainees are taught about engaging with vulnerable populations who have experienced trauma. "Everyone involved felt the importance and the need, and was dedicated to its success," said Hall.
Importantly, there are continued conversations and program evaluations with front-line operations to identify and make any needed adjustments to the training based on the needs and on-the-ground realities.
Early Impact on Operations
Trainee Paupellie Rivera first learned of the position from her father who is an assistant chief patrol agent with the U.S. Border Patrol. She served as a class leader for her session. "I read the description and I thought it was going to be intense, and it was," she said. She encourages future trainees to come to basic training open minded, noting that there is a lot to learn from the instructors and classmates. "The instructors were very knowledgeable and if someone was struggling, all of the instructors took time to break it down in order to ensure that students were successful and qualified," she said.
While present for the graduation of the fifth BPPC session, Chief Owens also engaged with other sessions, some who had just started the training program. With each engagement, he highlighted the significance of the new program, and how it created a unique opportunity and responsibility for the new BPPCs to help build it not just for them, but for those that come behind them. "Most Border Patrol stations are operating over capacity. Agents are looking forward to you joining the team," Owens said to the graduating class. When he asked if they were ready to accept this responsibility, the class responded with a unanimous and energetic, "yes."
The ultimate impact of this new position includes allowing agents to return to the front-line border security mission while increasing the care of people in CBP custody. In the Rio Grande Valley (RGV), they are seeing results firsthand. In FY 2021, the RGV experienced an unprecedented migrant surge, at times requiring up to 70% of its manpower to be assigned non-enforcement duties, including processing, property, hospital watch, and transportation duties. "The creation of the BPPC position is gradually enabling some Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley Sector to resume law enforcement duties," said RGV Chief Patrol Agent Brian Hastings. The BPPCs have now taken on a significant portion of these responsibilities, enabling RGV sector to deploy some agents back to field operations, strengthening the border security mission. "For those who have dedicated themselves to becoming a Processing Coordinator, thank you for your service and for ensuring the continuity of operations, your actions strengthen our Nation's borders," Hastings said.
CBP is now hiring for Border Patrol Processing Coordinators. More information about this position and how to apply is available at cbp.gov.