Even though President Trump demanded 15,000 new immigration and border officers, the Homeland Security Department says those numbers represent more of a “goal” than any hard and fast order, USA Today reports. Spokesman David Lapan said the hiring blitz, a major component of the Trump administration’s stepped-up immigration enforcement agenda, is subject to change because of declining border apprehensions, access to technology and agency attrition rates. “Things can change over time,” he said. “Maybe that number becomes higher; maybe that number becomes lower. It’s a goal.”
Soon after his inauguration, Trump issued executive orders on border security, calling for the hiring of 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and 5,000 Border Patrol agents. The hiring directives came at the same time that the president ordered the construction of a border wall, the centerpiece of his campaign. The administration has backed away the initial call for the physical walling of the entire southwest border, with the president calling for a kind of “transparent” barrier so that agents can monitor activity on the other side. Earlier this week, the DHS inspector general took issue with the hiring directive, asserting that officials have not provided “complete data to support the operational need or deployment strategies for the additional 15,000 agents and officers they were directed to hire.” Because of high wash-out rates during the hiring process, the inspector general said the agency would need to identify 1.25 million candidates to make 15,000 hires.