US senators seek relaxed screening of border patrol applicants

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Three Republican senators, hoping to speed the hiring of law enforcement agents on U.S. borders, on Friday introduced legislation waiving lie detector tests for job applicants who already serve in law enforcement or have done military service.

The "Boots on the Border Act" was backed by Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson, Senator John McCain, a member of that panel, and Senator Jeff Flake, who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees immigration policy.

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US-Mexico border and Border Patrol agents
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US-Mexico border and Border Patrol agents

A U.S. Border Patrol agent stands for a photograph while keeping watch along the U.S. and Mexico border in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, U.S., on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. The Trump administration outlined a sweeping crackdown on undocumented immigrants Tuesday, pledging to hire 15,000 more border patrol and immigration agents and to begin building a wall on the Mexican border to enact executive orders signed by the president on Jan. 25.

(Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

US Border Patrol agents speak with a woman on the US/Mexico border in El Paso, Texas, on February 20, 2017, prior to her crossing into the US. ATTENTION EDITORS: This image is part of an ongoing AFP photo project documenting the life on the two sides of the US/Mexico border simultaneously by two photographers traveling for ten days from California to Texas on the US side and from Baja California to Tamaulipas on the Mexican side between February 13 and 22, 2017.

(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

US Border Patrol agents patrol the Rio Grande river on a fan boat on the US/Mexico border in Eagle Pass, Texas, on February 21, 2017. Attention Editors: this image is part of an ongoing AFP photo project documenting the life on the two sides of the US/Mexico border simultaneously by two photographers traveling for ten days from California to Texas on the US side and from Baja California to Tamaulipas on the Mexican side between February 13 and 22, 2017.

(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

A U.S. Border Patrol agent stands for a photograph while keeping watch along the U.S. and Mexico border in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, U.S., on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. The Trump administration outlined a sweeping crackdown on undocumented immigrants Tuesday, pledging to hire 15,000 more border patrol and immigration agents and to begin building a wall on the Mexican border to enact executive orders signed by the president on Jan. 25.

(Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A border fence that separates the U.S. and Mexico stands in Sunland Park, New Mexico, U.S., on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. The Trump administration outlined a sweeping crackdown on undocumented immigrants Tuesday, pledging to hire 15,000 more border patrol and immigration agents and to begin building a wall on the Mexican border to enact executive orders signed by the president on Jan. 25.

(Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A boundary marker stands next to a border fence that separates the U.S. and Mexico in Sunland Park, New Mexico, U.S., on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. The Trump administration outlined a sweeping crackdown on undocumented immigrants Tuesday, pledging to hire 15,000 more border patrol and immigration agents and to begin building a wall on the Mexican border to enact executive orders signed by the president on Jan. 25.

(Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A U.S. Border Patrol agent stands for a photograph while keeping watch along the U.S. and Mexico border in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, U.S., on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. The Trump administration outlined a sweeping crackdown on undocumented immigrants Tuesday, pledging to hire 15,000 more border patrol and immigration agents and to begin building a wall on the Mexican border to enact executive orders signed by the president on Jan. 25.

(Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A suspected immigrant is escorted by the U.S. Border Patrol to a vehicle near the U.S.-Mexico border in McAllen, Texas, U.S., on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016. A security surge along the U.S.-Mexico border will use 'a military-style approach' with more Border Patrol agents, barriers and sensors and new authorities for law enforcement agencies, House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul said.

(Eddie Seal/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Border Patrol agents patrol the United States-Mexico Border wall during Opening the Door Of Hope/Abriendo La Puerta De La Esparana at Friendship Park in San Ysidro, California on Saturday, November 19, 2016.

(SANDY HUFFAKER/AFP/Getty Images)

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Flake, in a statement, noted that long screening procedures have resulted in 1,768 Border Patrol positions and 1,046 Customs and Border Protection jobs remaining unfilled.

At the same time, the Department of Homeland Security has plans to add more than 5,000 border enforcement agents to the current force.

The legislation, which would have to go through several steps in the Senate and House of Representatives before it could become law, comes as the Trump administration is stepping up deportations of illegal immigrants. It also is moving to restrict travel in the United States for people from six predominately Muslim countries, a move that faces legal challenges.

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US-Canadian border and border patrol
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US-Canadian border and border patrol
NIAGARA FALLS, NY - JUNE 04: The Rainbow Bridge crosses from the United States (L), into Canada near the Niagara Falls on June 4, 2013 at Niagara Falls, New York. The falls, which have a combined highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world, straddle the U.S.-Canada border, on the Niagara River, which drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario. The falls, visited by millions of tourists on each side of the border, are also a major source of hydroelectric power for the region. The aerial view was seen from a helicopter flown by the U.S. Office of Air and Marine, (OAM), which monitors and patrols the U.S. northern border with Canada. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
LAKE METIGOSHE, ND - SEPTEMBER 8: A sign warns about the potential consequences of illegal entry into the United States or Canada on September 8, 2006 at Lake Metigoshe, North Dakota. The lake lies on the border between the two nations. (Photo by: Andy Nelson/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)
COLUMBIA VALLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA - JUNE 18: Obelisks mark the border between the United States and Canada in Columbia Valley, British Columbia, Canada, on June 18, 2006. (Photo by: Andy Nelson/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)
BLACK ROCK, NY - JUNE 04: U.S. Border Patrol agent John Stanko walks along a rail bridge connecting the U.S. with Canada on June 4, 2013 near Black Rock, New York. U.S. Border Patrol agents monitor the bridge for undocumented immigrants trying to cross either into or out of the United States illegally on the bridge. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
August 1, 2008 - CHAMPLAIN, NEW YORK - The fence which marks the property line, and the property line of a house on the Canadian side, also represents the international border. The Canada-US border where New York and Vermont meet with Quebec, is part of the northern frontier for US Border Patrol agents. Increased staffing and increased budgets have led to better enforcement across the region. Toronto Star/Rick Madonik (Photo by Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
DEPEW, NY - JUNE 05: U.S. Border Patrol agents check passenger identifications aboard an Amtrak train from Chicago to New York City on June 5, 2013 in Depew, New York. The agents set up a 24 hour check of transportation hubs in and around Buffalo. They said they received intelligence of undocumented immigrants passing through the area. The Border Patrol also monitors cross along the northern border between the United States and Canada. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
DEPEW, NY - JUNE 05: A U.S. Border Patrol agent checks passenger identifications aboard an Amtrak train from Chicago to New York City on June 5, 2013 in Depew, New York. The agents set up a 24 hour check of transportation hubs in and around Buffalo. They said they received intelligence of undocumented immigrants passing through the area. The Border Patrol also monitors cross along the northern border between the United States and Canada. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
DEPEW, NY - JUNE 05: U.S. Border Patrol agents check passenger identifications at a train station on June 5, 2013 in Depew, New York. The agents set up a 24 hour check of transportation hubs in and around Buffalo. They said they received intelligence of undocumented immigrants passing through the area. The Border Patrol also monitors cross border traffic along the northern border between the United States and Canada. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
August 1, 2008 - CHAMPLAIN, NEW YORK - The Bush Road (must check proper name), looking back to the US from the Canadian side of the fence. Formerly a valid entry point to the US, with an agricultural inspection centre, it is no longer in use and monitored. The Canada-US border where New York and Vermont meet with Quebec, is part of the northern frontier for US Border Patrol agents. Increased staffing and increased budgets have led to better enforcement across the region. Toronto Star/Rick Madonik (Photo by Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
LEWISTON, NY - JUNE 04: The Niagara River emerges from the Niagara Gorge on June 4, 2013 at Lewiston, New York. The river forms the border between the United States (L), and Canada and drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario. The river is a major source of hydroelectric power for the region. The aerial view was seen from a helicopter flown by the U.S. Office of Air and Marine, (OAM), which monitors and patrols the U.S. northern border with Canana. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
SWEETGRASS, MONTANA-March 3, 2005-This border marker sits on a gravel road that goes between Montana and Alberta, Canada. It is between the border crossing of Sweetgrass, MT to Coutts, Alberta and Whitlash, MT. to Aden, Alberta, Canada (THE DENVER POST PHOTO BY LYN ALWEIS) NOTE: WE MAY NOT WANT TO TELL WHERE THESE ROADS ARE (Photo By Lyn Alweis/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 03: A U.S. Border Patrol agent looks over Lake Erie near the U.S.-Canada border on June 3, 2013 in Buffalo, New York. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which includes the Border Patrol, monitors the 5,525 mile long border, including Alaska, forming the longest international border between two countries in the world. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Oroville, Washington-March 2, 2005- Richard M. Graham, Jr. steps out of his truck on the U.S. side of the border. The Border Patrol know that people have entered the U.S. in this area because they can see footprints in the snow. The border betweeen the U.S. and Canada can be seen behind him as a rancher's fence caught snow and held it there on the Canadian side. (THE DENVER POST PHOTO BY LYN ALWEIS) Yes, that is the border up on those hills. (Photo By Lyn Alweis/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
NORTON, VT - MARCH 22: U.S. Border Patrol Agents Paul Mulcahy (L) and Andrew Mayer ride snowmobiles as they look for signs of illegal aliens as they cross a frozen lake that is split between the Canadian territory to the right and the U.S. March 22, 2006 near Norton, Vermont. As American politicians continue to debate immigration reform, Border Patrol agents work the northern border to prevent illegal entry. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
BEECHER FALLS, VT - MARCH 23: A U.S. Border Patrol agent stands along the boundary marker cut into the forest marking the line between Canadian territory on the right and the United States March 23, 2006 near Beecher Falls, Vermont. As American politicians continue to debate immigration reform, Border Patrol agents work the northern border to prevent illegal entry. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
SUMAS, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA - JUNE 18: Canada is on the left side of the ditch and the United States is on the right near Sumas, British Columbia, Canada, on June 18, 2006. The road is under video surveillance and Border Patrol agents make frequent passes on the roadway. The amount of traffic on the Canadian roadway is much greater. (Photo by Andy Nelson/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)
NIAGARA FALLS, NY - OCTOBER 18: On a windy day, mist partially obscures the huge waterfalls and creates a rainbow, on October 18, 2013 in Niagara Falls, New York. Niagara Falls is the collective name for three waterfalls that straddle the international border between Canada and the United States. The combined falls form the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world, with a vertical drop of more than 165 feet. The falls are renowned both for their beauty - drawing tourists from around the world - and as a valuable source of hydroelectric power. (Photo by Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)
BLACK ROCK, NY - JUNE 03: A U.S. Border Patrol boat patrols the Niagara River forming the U.S.-Canada border on June 3, 2013 near Black Rock, New York. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which includes the Border Patrol, monitors the 5,525 mile long border, including Alaska, forming the longest international border between two countries in the world. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
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Under the Senate bill, CBP could waive current polygraph requirements for applicants who have been working in federal, state and local law enforcement for the past three years, have clean employment records and have successfully completed polygraph and other background investigations.

The bill also would cover U.S. armed forces personnel and veterans.

"This legislation would address CBP's chronic staffing shortage by streamlining background tests for qualified veterans, military service members, and law enforcement officers in good standing," McCain said in a statement.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Dan Grebler)


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