Speed Reads


John Oliver has a realistic recruitment pitch for Trump's Border Patrol surge

President Trump has made securing the U.S. border with Mexico a key priority of his administration, John Oliver noted on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. "And while that wall idea has received a lot of coverage, it is by no means Trump's only border plan. One of his more benign-sounding but potentially no-less-dangerous ideas concerns the Border Patrol." The Border Patrol isn't ICE — the agents doing the raids — or the customs officers at airports, he explained. They're the 20,000 agents who literally patrol the border, often alone, and Trump wants to add at least 5,000 more.

The work they do is part drug interdiction and part humanitarian work, but mostly boring, and not everyone can do the job, Oliver said. "And that is what makes Trump's plan expand the Border Patrol by 25 percent so concerning, because if you hire agents quickly and badly, it can actually leave us much less safe and have devastating consequences." We know this, because we've done this before, Oliver said. "So tonight, I would like to talk to you about the last Border Patrol hiring surge," in the late-2000s.

To double the Border Patrol, the George W. Bush administration did things like produce slick recruitment ads and sponsor a NASCAR car, but it also lowered standards, cut back training, and instituted a polygraph test only after some shady people made it through, Oliver explained. This led to a string of questionable shootings, very iffy agent activity, and at least 77 officers fired for corruption, often with Mexican drug cartels. "Look, whatever your feelings about the laws the Border Patrol have been given to enforce — and I have plenty of feelings on that — you do want the best possible people enforcing them," he said. "Because if you don't, as we have seen, bad things happen."

"If we are going to hire all these people, the very least we can do is be more careful this time around," Oliver argued. "And one tiny step would be to have recruitment ads that show potential agents what the job is really like." The ad, like the rest of the segment, is peppered with NSFW language and irreverent jokes. Watch below. Peter Weber