Reservists and veterans would be actively recruited for border security jobs, with incentives including student loan repayment and signing bonuses, under a bipartisan Senate plan unveiled Monday.
Introduced as an amendment to the comprehensive immigration reform bill, the plan requires the Homeland Security Department to work with the Defense Department to recruit current National Guard and reserve members and veterans to serve in the customs, border protection and immigration posts.
Someone who takes a full-time job as a border patrol agent could receive up to $80,000 in repayment of student loans in return for a three-year commitment. Additionally, recruitment, relocation and retention bonuses could be paid.
Sens. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and Mike Johanns, R-Neb., are cosponsors of the amendment to S 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act. The Senate is in its second week of debating this bill, with more than 100 amendments pending. Senate leaders would like to complete work on the bill by the end of June.
In a statement, Pryor said, “We need the best and the brightest to stand guard at our border, and I can think of no individuals better trained for this role than our military members and veterans. They’ve shown time and time again that they’re dedicated to serving our nation.”
Johanns said the military teaches a lot of skills, many of which “can be used right here at home securing our borders.” “This is a win-win amendment that encourages our current and former military service members to pursue jobs in border security, adding to the ranks of highly trained professionals dedicated to protecting our nation’s border.”