Senate bill proposes rate increases for border protectors

June 14, 2002|By MATT YOUNG, Special to this newspaper

WASHINGTON (MNS) — A recently passed Senate bill to fund counterterrorism efforts until October includes an amendment that would increase the pay of Border Patrol agents and immigration inspectors.

‘‘It is imperative that we provide ample pay for those who are responsible for protecting our borders,'' said Sen. Dianne Feinstein in a news release. ‘‘Border Patrol agents and immigration inspectors are on the frontline of homeland defense and we need to make sure we have the best and brightest in these positions.''

The provision would increase the payroll account by $4.9 million for agents who have served for at least one year. It would provide $3.8 million to increase the salaries of immigration inspectors who have performed their duties for a year.

Feinstein co-sponsored the amendment with Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.

The Border Patrol is losing agents at a heightened rate from previous years, said Nicole Chulick, an Immigration and Naturalization Service spokeswoman.


In the fiscal year beginning in October, the INS lost 17 percent of its agents compared to 10 to 12 percent in previous years, she said. According to Kyl, much of the loss resulted from noncompetitive salaries.

‘‘By increasing salaries for these workers, we will improve retention rates and be able to recruit the best individuals for these important positions,'' Feinstein said.

Still, the White House has said it strongly opposes the bill because it is too costly and funds many ‘‘lower priority nonemergency programs.''

President Bush has reportedly threatened to veto the bill. First, however, senators must hash out differences with the House, which passed its version of the bill last month. If it becomes law, the bill would increase pay for agents and inspectors only until the end of September, when the government's fiscal year ends. Salary increases thereafter would have to be approved in a different bill.

‘‘I would expect that it would be,'' said Feinstein spokesman Scott Gerber.

‘‘We're knocking up against July'' already, he said.

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles