Women make up only five percent of the U.S. Border Patrol's 21,000 agents, yet last year the number of females trying to cross into the U.S. illegally rose by 173 percent, Fox News reports.
According to agent Yesenia Leon, having a female agent pat search another female is "not necessary... but it is preferred." Fellow agent Marcella Benson added that with more female agents, "we kind of are able to relate to a female [immigrant] a little easier than it would be for a male to relate."
By September, Fox reports, the U.S. Border Patrol plans to hire 1,600 new female agents, and 5,700 women have already applied. The hiring process can take months, and 13 weeks of rigorous training at the academy is required.