In April, as the crisis at the US-Mexico border began to reach a fever pitch, Senior Video Correspondent Graham Flanagan spent four days inside the United States Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico.
Before they serve in the Border Patrol, trainees must graduate from the Academy’s six-month basic training program.
While a majority of the training is focused on law enforcement operations, the Academy also emphasizes instruction in the Spanish language in order to enhance communication between agents and the people they encounter in the field.
The agency has been the focus of intense scrutiny in recent months due to revelations about reportedly squalid conditions at Border Patrol-run detention centers where migrants, including children, wait to be processed and released.
During our time at the Academy, we did not see any training — other than Spanish instruction — that was specifically designed to prepare the trainees to work in the detention centers or to care for migrant children.
This begged the question: is the training that occurs at the Academy adequately preparing the trainees for what awaits them in the field? In a statement to Business Insider, a United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) spokesperson said that, “The Border Patrol Academy does not conduct training related to detention officer duties… Once a trainee graduates and arrives at their station, depending on their geographical location, it now becomes the duty and responsibility of their station to further train the new agent on local policies and procedures.”
In regards to how trainees are instructed to work with children, the CBP spokesperson told Business Insider that “The Border Patrol Academy trains and teaches agents about policies and regulations related to the Flores vs. Reno/TVPRA. This is the current case precedent that governs children in short term custody.”
The 1997 Flores Settlement requires that immigration officials detaining minors provide food and drinking water, medical assistance in emergencies, toilets and sinks, adequate temperature control and ventilation, adequate supervision to protect minors from others, and separation from unrelated adults whenever possible.
According to CBP, trainees are also trained in first-aid and basic lifesaving measures.
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How Border Patrol Agents Are Trained