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The difficulty in fulfilling these positions comes in part thanks to the polygraph portion of the examination as well as the grueling schedule. The applicants must be able to work long days and nights away from home but can earn $52,000 entry level in their first year. Border patrol staffing hit it’s peak in 2011 with over 21,000 new hires but every year that number drops.
The polygraph has been a significant challenge as it has eliminated potentially qualified candidates. Polygraph tests are often riddled with glitches. One qualified candidate failed the polygraph exam twice because of faulty machines. The candidate failed when asked if he was a drug dealer and the next time he took the test he failed when asked if he was a murderer. This according to Stu Harris, vice president for AFGE Local 1929, the local El Paso Border Patrol Union.