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John Oliver Explains Why Increasing Border Patrol Might Leave Us Less Safe

Restricting immigration and securing the border was one of the biggest talking points for Trump during his campaign, and one that he’s continued to emphasize with huge doses of xenophobia and racism. The “Wall,” an idea so flawed that Trump’s own incoherent comments seem to poke holes in it, stands as one of the defining symbols of his campaign—an impractical, ineffective, and ill-informed idea that capitalizes on racist fear-mongering and violence without even a whisper of understanding around real problems in the U.S.

In yesterday’s Last Week Tonight, John Oliver covers one of Trump’s efforts to “stop the drugs and crime,” an executive order that calls for a 25% increase in border patrol agents. This would add 5,000 agents to the current 20,000, and while some of his supporters might think of the order as something that would keep the country safer, Oliver points out “if you hire agents quickly and badly it can actually leave us much less safe and have devastating consequences.”

To start, Oliver questions the need for this, considering the number of Mexicans apprehended at the border has dramatically dropped in years and the number of migrants fleeing violence in Central America has sharply risen. In these situations, there is a legal process to seek asylum, meaning there’s “no chase, no tension, they expect to be caught.” This humanitarian aspect of the border patrol job is talked about less often, but it’s just as much a part of the job as drug enforcement is.

By looking at the post-9/11 surge of agents during Bush’s administration, which was accompanied by aggressive recruitment to double the number from 10,000 to 20,000, Oliver points out that this lead to a lowering of standards and a skyrocketing of corruption and excessive force. One especially telling incident involves the shooting of 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, by one of the officers hired during the surge. While it’s easy to use the “a few bad apples” excuse in this situation, former Internal Affairs Chief of U.S. Customs and Border Protection James Tomsheck identifies the problem as a systematic one.

While there’s much more to say about whether Trump’s executive order is necessary at all, Oliver emphasizes that at the very minimum, this upcoming surge should not repeat the mistakes of the previous one:

“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 because if you don’t, as we have seen, bad things happen. This is a story about the danger of not learning from your mistakes.

And for the sake of absolutely everybody, people on both sides of the border and the good border patrol agents just trying to do a difficult job well. If we are going to hire all these new people, the least we can do is be more careful this time around. And one tiny step would be to have recruitment ads that show potential agents what their job is really like.”

The segment ends with Last Week Tonight‘s border patrol ad, which emphasizes boredom, humanitarian work, and a stable mind not prone to aggressive violence and sexual deprivation.

(image: screencap)

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