President Trump made securing the border a focus of both his campaign and his presidency, including his plan to build a massive border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. On Last Week Tonight, John Oliver focuses on some major holes in the border plan. He notes that while the wall has gotten a lot of attention in the press, it is by no means Trump’s only plan for securing the border. According to Oliver, Trump hopes to add 5,000 border patrol agents, which Oliver quips are not the same as “Borders patrol agents” who defend abandoned Borders bookstores from raccoons.
While the number of Mexican immigrants to the U.S. has dropped, the number of people fleeing violence in Central America — who may be legally allowed in the U.S. — has risen, which makes the job of a border patrol agent very complicated. According to Oliver, the jobs of border patrol agents are a mixture of humanitarian work and law enforcement and not everyone can do it, which is why quickly boosting the numbers of agents can be risky. Oliver came to this conclusion based on what happened after there was a surge in hiring of border patrol agents in the wake of 9/11. “The late 2000s saw a surge in border patrol agents that was matched only by the surge in reality shows about people making cakes,” says Oliver, crediting an “aggressive” recruitment campaign that included literally sponsoring a NASCAR team.
However, according to Oliver, being an agent can be a tedious job with hours spent alone patrolling large swaths of land. Oliver notes that it’s so boring, in fact, that recruits should train for it. “For every hour of combat training they should watch one hour of Mozart in the Jungle,” says Oliver. However, Oliver notes that in the past, aggressive recruiting meant lowering hiring standards as well as cutting training budgets. In the past, border patrol agent training cut back on both Spanish language lessons and physical training, which, Oliver joked, meant that they scaled back agents’ abilities to both communicate with people and to catch them should they run away.
According to Oliver, adding more border patrol agents isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but hopefully the government will learn from past mistakes. To that end, Oliver conscripted Will Arnett to create a realistic recruitment ad for those considering joining the border patrol.
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