Should Federal Agents Protecting Our Borders Be Required to Live in the US?

Should federal employees with a duty station in America maintain their primary residence in the United States? Most readers probably thought this was a requirement for Customs and Border Protection agents. It wasn’t.

Should employees of the Customs and Border Protection have their primary residence in the United States? With the hundreds of thousands of people trying to get into this country to take advantage of the opportunities here, most readers would probably think it was always a requirement–or that most people in federal jobs would automatically take up residence here instead of living in a country where so many people want to leave.

In reality,  living in the United States has not been a requirement and some agents have preferred to live in Mexico or Canada. That, presumably, could cause concerns about the primary loyalty of some of the employees who are paid to protect America’s borders.

Perhaps it is because of increasing concern in the agency about corruption along the Mexican border where the amount of money available to federal agents in a position to help illegals into the United States continues to grow–and the number of cases of agents taking the money to help smugglers instead of performing the jobs they were paid to do also continues to grow. Perhaps it is because of general security concerns regarding terrorism.

But, whatever the underlying reason, the agency decided in August 2005 that requiring employees to have their primary residence in the United States would be a good idea. So what about those that are living in Mexico (or Canada) and then reporting to their Federal job in the United States every day? Will the employee be given a choice of resigning or paying their own relocation expenses to move back to America?

When the new policy decision was issued by the Customs Commissioner, employees were told that those assigned to duty stations in the United States must also live in this country

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47