By Steve Neavling
The gender gap among Border Patrol agents is significant, even as more women are crossing the border illegally.
The Los Angeles Times reports a 173% in the number of apprehended female immigrants, yet just 5% of the agency’s 21,000 agents are women.
Border Patrol hopes to correct the disparity by aggressively recruiting women.
“Other federal law enforcement [agencies] were at 16% female. We’ve stayed at 5%,” said Shevannah Wray, a spokeswoman for Customs and Border Protection in the Tucson sector. “We need to increase that number in order to have females to search females that we arrest. And then just to reflect the workforce of the U.S.”
While Border Patrol rules do not prohibit male agents from searching female migrants, the agency prefers women for that role.
Another perk of female agents is having someone that women can trust. According to Amnesty International, three of every five female migrants are sexually assaulted during their trek.
“There are females that have been abused along their journey,” Wray said. “So I imagine that they may feel more comfortable talking to a female agent.”