Last year saw the number of females attempting to come illegally into the United States increase by 173%. As a result, the United States Border Patrol plans to hire 1,600 additional female agents by the end of September to patrol the southern border.
Even though it is not necessary for female agents to pat search females, it is preferred for obvious reasons, which explains why US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is interested in hiring female border patrol agents. Women coming into the U.S. are not only from Mexico, but from countries further south as well. Due to their longer journeys, the conditions are much more dangerous, with an Amnesty International Report citing that as many as 60 percent of the females making the journey will have been sexually assaulted before even making it to the U.S. border.
Marcella Benson has been with the Border Patrol for seven years and claims that this additional female presence will make it easier to help women attempting to cross the border. Benson is worried that with such a low percentage of women working for the CBP, it will become increasingly difficult to properly handle everyone attempting the journey.
Presently, only five percent of Border Patrol Agents are women, which comes to roughly 21,000 agents. This is in stark contrast with the military, where 15 percent of soldiers are women and law enforcement agencies, where women also account for 15 percent of the workforce.
Last December, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection received a federal exemption asking for new female applicants, with 5,700 women answering the call so far.
The actual training process for women applicants is not any different than the rigorous routine that men must go through. In addition to the physical aspect of training, most new hires will also have to undergo language lessons to become fluent in Spanish, as well as participate in field training in the Arizona desert.