Border Patrol: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Border Patrol: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

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Donald Trump’s plan to hire more Border Patrol agents could lead to more corruption and misconduct. If only their recruitment ads were designed to attract the most suitable applicants.

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The border, the boundary
that is incredibly tough to smuggle a monkey across…
-Shh. (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) President Trump has famously
made securing the border a key priority
for his administration, most notably
through his border wall, something which, as we've
pointed out before, he himself inadvertently found
a flaw in on the campaign trail. There's no ladder
going over that. If they ever get up there,
they're in trouble. 'Cause there's no way
to get down. Maybe a rope. -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)
-Yeah. Yeah. Maybe a rope. And I know that sounds stupid,
but to be fair, you haven't heard Phase Six of Donald Trump's
border security plan, "Go get me all the ropes." And while that wall idea
has received a lot of coverage, it is by no means
Trump's only border plan. One of his more benign-sounding,
but potentially no less dangerous, ideas
concerns the Border Patrol. And first, let's be clear
about who they are. They are part of Customs
and Border Protection. They are not ICE, who you may
know from immigration raids. They're also
not customs officers, who you'll see at airports
and border crossings, nor are they the Borders Patrol,
a group of vigilantes who defend abandoned Borders
bookstores from raccoons. No, the Border Patrol
are the people in green uniforms who literally patrol
the boundaries of our country. There are around 20,000 of them. But Trump,
in an executive order, has called for them to add
five thousand more, to tackle the many problems
that he sees on our southern border. Let's stop the drugs
and the crime from pouring into our country. You can certainly
have terrorists, you can certainly
have Islamic terrorists, you can have anything
coming across the border. We're gonna have a strong,
strong, strong border that people are gonna respect,
and the drugs are not gonna be flowing across like gravy. Now, that right there,
is what happens when Donald Trump starts
a sentence feeling xenophobic -and ends it feeling hungry.
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) "We need to stop Mexicans
coming in like hot fudge sundaes coming into my tummy,
three scoops, whipped cream, no cherry,
'cause I don't do fruit." But– but for the record,
Border Patrol agents do a lot more than just fight
drugs, crime and gravy. In recent years, the number
of Mexicans apprehended
crossing the border has dramatically dropped
and has now been surpassed by the sharp rise in migrants
fleeing violence in Central America, for whom
there is a legal process
to seek asylum here. Meaning that agents' days can frequently include
moments like this. NEWSCASTER:
The Boccé family take
their first tentative steps into the United States
of America. Within seconds,
the Border Patrol are on them. There's no chase, no tension.
They expected to be caught. (MAN SPEAKS IN SPANISH) NEWSCASTER: As we film,
another two figures emerge, a mother and her daughter. They're given blankets
to protect them from the cold. And that's kind of not
what people expect when they think of the border. In the Venn Diagram
of hardened drug dealers and people who need blankets, that middle section
is pretty much just Linus. (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) Oh, I'm sorry, he is not
a drug dealer? The messy hair,
the stripy shirt, the thumb-sucking…
He sells ecstasy at raves, and he's high on his own supply
all the time. There is no Great Pumpkin, he's a junkie,
someone intervene! (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) But– but the truth is,
it is moments like that there, that show how difficult the job
of a Border Patrol agent can be, because in that moment,
they are delivering aid and processing migrants,
but later, that same day, they may be chasing down
drug traffickers. So, it's a mixture
between humanitarian work and law enforcement,
and not everyone can do it. And that is what makes
Trump's plan to expand the Border Patrol
by 25 percent so concerning, because if you hire agents
quickly and badly, it can actually leave us
much less safe and have
devastating consequences. And the reason we know this
is because we have been
down this road before. So, tonight, I would like
to talk to you about the last Border Patrol
hiring surge, because it wasn't that long ago. NEWSCASTER: After the so-called
bungling of intelligence
leading up to 9/11, President George W. Bush
is determined to shore things up
at the borders. As part of that mandate,
the Border Patrol expanded from 10,000 agents to 20,000. It's true. The late 2000s saw
a surge in Border Patrol agents that was matched only
by the surge in the number of reality shows about people
making cakes. There were so many of those,
you don't even know which one of them I made up. It was, by the way,
-…which, I guarantee you, will be in production
some time next week. Now– now, to meet the surge's
ambitious targets, recruitment was aggressive, and the government advertised
everywhere, even, at one point,
doing this… NEWSCASTER: The Border Patrol
spent 8.4 million dollars
sponsoring this car, getting it detailed
and staffing recruitment booths. (CAR REVVING) That is honestly true.
They sponsored a NASCAR team, putting the Border Patrol
in such fine company as other actual NASCAR sponsors,
Depend Underwear, -and Boudreaux's Butt Paste.
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) A product for, I assume,
people who want their butt -pasted closed.
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) And look, that wasn't all. They also ran slickly-produced
TV ads, like this… ANNOUNCER:
As a mobile law enforcement arm of the Department
of Homeland Security, it is the job
of the Border Patrol to prevent terrorists
and terrorist weapons, and all those who seek
to do us harm, from entering the United States. (RADIO CHATTER) ANNOUNCER:
The Border Patrol. We protect America.
Are you up to the challenge? You have to admit, they make
that job look very exciting, although, in fairness,
anything said in that tone of voice
would be exciting. (DEEP VOICE) Here is my kitten.
I named him Bootsie. Don't wee on the rug, Bootsie. I'm not sure he likes me
as much as I like him. (RESUMES REGULAR TONE)
But the truth of their job is that most agents work alone,
patrolling vast swathes
of desert. And whilst some days feature
bursts of action, others can involve
absolutely nothing, which can be challenging
in and of itself. REPORTER:
One of the larger problems…
is boredom. HEYMAN: It doesn't mean
that it's never dangerous. There are bandits out there,
there are drug organizations
out there. What they're not really getting
is preparation for… the boring, non-risky reality
of almost all of their career. -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)
-Exactly. Boredom is a significant part
of life as a Border Patrol agent. And they should probably train
for it. For every hour they spend
in target practice, they should probably spend
ten hours watching
Mozart in the Jungle. Are you funny?
Am I supposed to care about you? Who's that woman with the oboe? I'm confused,
but I'm also bored. (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) But– but the big problem was
that as they doubled in size, meeting and maintaining
their hiring quotas meant that their screening process
wasn't always as strong as it could have been. It was only late in the surge
that the CBP started giving applicants
polygraph tests, something that most other
federal law enforcement
agencies do, and to listen to James Tomsheck,
who headed Internal Affairs for CBP through most
of the surge, their findings indicated
they probably should
have done that sooner. TOMSHECK:
The shocking discovery we found was that more than half
of the persons who had cleared
background investigations, failed the polygraph
examination, the vast majority of them
providing detailed descriptions of the criminal activity
they had been involved in. Now, just think about that.
Over half of CBP's applicants, who had cleared
the highest level
of background check, were found unsuitable
for service. And some of what
they confessed to was absolutely incredible. One applicant admitted
to smoking marijuana twenty-thousand times
in a ten-year period. Kudos to that individual. While another stated he had
"no independent recollection of the events that resulted
in a blood-doused kitchen," and was "uncertain if he had
committed any crime during his three-hour blackout." Which, I'm gonna go ahead
and say, yes, you did commit a crime,
or at the very least, you really fucked up a soufflé. I mean, you fucked
that thing up bad. And the problems didn't stop
once the new agents were hired, because the training was also
significantly cut back, and that caused real issues,
as one trainer revealed, while, for some reason, being disguised
as an asthmatic scarecrow. REPORTER: We are disguising
the face and voice of this veteran agent
and training instructor, because of fears of retaliation. AGENT: So, the standards were lowered? AGENT: -What is happening there?
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) He sounds like Jesse Ventura
after swallowing one of those novelty cow-voice noise makers. And look, I know that it is
really hard to pay attention to what Robot Neil Young
is saying there, but it is genuinely
worth listening to where they cut corners. REPORTER: The source told us
Spanish-language classes and physical training
were cut back. AGENT: They cut back on Spanish
and physical training, so the new standards affected
agents' ability to talk to the people
they caught and their ability
to catch the people
they wanted to talk to. Which seem like pretty essential
facets of their job. It's like if the training
program at SeaWorld left out putting on a wetsuit
and systematically driving carnivorous whales insane. That's the whole job there! Take them away, you're left
with nothing else! And consequently,
as the ranks grew, corruption and excessive force
sky-rocketed and misconduct became
such a problem that, at one point,
the Border Patrol felt it needed to issue a memo about the fact
their agents "were averaging two alcohol-
related arrests per week," and some agents off-duty
run-ins with the law were even more spectacular. BARBARA LEE-EDWARDS: Tonight,
two Border Patrol agents are on leave after a woman
says they put on a lewd show during Cirque du Soleil,
performing a sex act right in front of children. The accusations
don't stop there. The couple is suspected
of being drunk and violent. (CHUCKLING) Wow! Now, I should tell you,
one agent was found guilty of assaulting the woman
who complained, but both denied that anything
sexual was happening, and they were found not guilty
of the sex act, presumably because they were
at Cirque du Soleil, where everything looks
like a sex act. -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)
-I'll show you. This… is a sex act. This is a sex act. This is a wildly difficult
sex act. That is a bird person sex act. And I have absolutely no idea
what's happening there, but I think it's the thing
Steve Bannon is supposed
to be good at. (AUDIENCE LAUGHING
AND CLAPPING) And things got– things got
more serious than that. Since 2005, 77 agents
were arrested or indicted for corruption, and if you think
about it, Border Patrol agents
are particularly attractive to drug-traffickers. Remember, they often work
on their own, patrolling the border, which, as one journalist
points out, is a pretty potent recipe
for trouble. One Border Patrol agent
can undo an incredible amount of good that all the other
Border Patrol agents do. One Border Patrol agent
can wave in tons of drugs. And, you know– Literally. Absolutely literally. Yeah! This is one
of the only cases where someone saying
"a ton of drugs" actually means a literal ton
of drugs. No, Kevin, you did not do
"a ton of drugs," you took a Benadryl,
you made out with a goldfish, and you passed out with
your head in the dishwasher. Pull your life together. And look, let me give you
just a taste of the kind of spectacular corruption
involved. Take Agent Joel Luna,
who, it turned out, had a brother in the Gulf Cartel
and who was convicted of engaging in organized crime with some
pretty striking evidence emerging during a house search. INVESTIGATOR:
We end up finding a safe,
a black safe. We found 89,000 dollars
in cash. ROOT:
Joel Luna's commemorative
Border Patrol badge, kilo and a half of cocaine,
methamphetamine, a gun that's tied directly
to the Gulf Cartel, it says "Gulf Cartel" on it.
It's hard to explain that away. It's hard to explain
why your Border Patrol badge is in a safe with cocaine,
money and a cartel pistol. -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)
-Yeah. That is really hard to explain. I mean, the best I can do
is, uh, "My badge had a drug problem
that it couldn't bear to tell me about, so finally,
it decided to shoot itself with a gun that we found
on a case, planning to die surrounded
by its money because its views on death
resemble those
of Ancient Egyptians." But even then, we are talking
about a sentient police badge with an interest in Egyptology,
so you're already banking on a pretty large suspension
of disbelief there. Oh, and you should know, Luna was hired during the last
recruitment surge. And CBP will tell you
what they told us, that while some agents did
disgrace the badge
with corruption, the vast majority did not. Although, it is worth knowing
that Tomsheck, the Internal Affairs guy, believes the problem
is much bigger than they imply. Mr. Luna is not one bad apple. He is part of
a raid of corruption that exceeded that of
any other U.S. Federal
law enforcement agency. Okay, so it's less
"one bad apple," than, "Oh, my God.
That is a lot of bad apples." Which, by the way, should really
be the marketing theme for red delicious apples. "Red delicious apples… Well, at least we got
the 'red' part right!" (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) And it gets even worse. Because remember,
these agents have guns. And some have made
very bad decisions. And you may have seen coverage
of some of the tragic incidents. MAN: In a string of shootings
by the Border Patrol that have stirred up emotions
at the border, there's one case in particular that has become
a rallying cry for justice. A shooting of a 16-year-old boy
named Joe Antonio Elena Rodriguez. They say their agents
were threatened by somebody throwing rocks on
this side of the fence. But standing here,
the first thing you ask yourself is, "Could a 16-year-old boy
really threaten somebody standing on top of what's
at least a 20-foot cliff? And on the other side
of that fence?" I mean, yeah.
That does seem pretty unlikely. And to explain why,
tune in next week when our main story will be
"Gravity… Arch-nemesis
to the concept of up." -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)
-Now, so you know, that case is still
in the courts. And agents can sometimes feel
threatened by rock throwers, but it is worth pointing out
that a report which looked at
25 cases where Border Patrol agents
shot people who'd thrown rocks, concluded that "too many cases
do not appear to meet the test
of objective reasonableness with regard to the use
of deadly force." Which I believe is kind of
law enforcement legalese for "Holy shit! You shot some people
you should not have
fucking shot at. -Maybe don't do that as much."
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) Oh, and there is one more thing
about the agent in that fence shooting…
that will not surprise you. He was one of those persons
hired by, uh, the Border Patrol -during the surge.
-Of course he was. And yet, despite all of these
warning signs, we are about to embark
upon another ambitious Border Patrol hiring surge. And CBP will tell you
not to worry about that, that in recent years
they've improved hiring
and made reforms. For instance, they've slightly
increased transparency and given agents more
non-lethal weapons like pepper spray guns, as well as rewriting
the use of force rulebook to, and I quote, "prohibit
the shooting of suspects fleeing the scene who do not
pose a threat to themselves
or others." And look, that is great, although it does seem
to be one of those rules that you shouldn't have
had to write down. -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)
-If you went to a zoo, and there were a giant sign
that said, "Please don't finger
the armadillos," you would wonder
what the fuck had happened -before that sign went up.
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHING, CLAPPING) But the problem is,
many other reforms
have not been made, and it is hard to believe
that they will be now that President
Gravy Drugs is in charge. In fact, worryingly,
there has already been talk that hiring standards
might drop again with suggestions like
a shorter polygraph, or removing parts of
the entrance exam. And most frustratingly of all,
there may be no reason for us
to take this risk, because a report from
the Inspector General
For Homeland Security questions whether we even need
5,000 more Border Patrol agents. And yet, Trump seems determined
to do this anyway. Who knows why? There is a fairly good chance
he only said 5,000 because someone told him
five bazillion is not
a real number. (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) And look,
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 very 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 the job is really like. ANNOUNCER: The Border Patrol. We protect America. And we're hiring… again. But this time,
we're gonna do it right. So if you're looking for
an exciting, heart-pounding adventure, maybe go skydiving
or try parkour, or do whatever the fuck this is. But the Border Patrol
may not be for you. Because a lot of the time
the job looks less like this… And more like… this. (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) ANNOUNCER: That's right. Just you, the desert,
and nothing for miles around. (BIRD CAWS) (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) ANNOUNCER: This could be
your lunch break. This is a job that could combine
hours of boredom with sudden bursts of action. AGENT: Oh, shit! I got people moving.
And about that action… it definitely can involve
people entering illegally, or drug smugglers. But a surprising
amount of the time, it involves desperate migrants
for whom you're the first
point of contact in a system ill-equipped
to cater to their needs. (AGENT MUMBLING) These guys… here. I don't… (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) Shit. ANNOUNCER:
This job is not for everyone. And that's why this time, we're not advertising
with NASCAR. Instead, we're recruiting with
this sweet-ass Honda Odyssey. A practical car for
reasonable, methodical people. (AUDIENCE LAUGHING, CHEERING) ANNOUNCER: Please make sure
you read the entirety of this nuanced text
before making any decisions. And some of it's in Spanish, because it would be
really useful if you could speak that. But just to be clear, if you
wanna fuck at Cirque du Soleil, this is not the job for you. And we will find out. Last question, have you ever…
and I mean ever considered having
sexual relations at a performance of
exotically dressed Canadian acrobats? No. (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) We're done here. ANNOUNCER: The point is,
if you're kind, physically fit, impervious to bribery
or boredom, and you want to
serve your country by enforcing a controversial
and ever-changing set of policies in the most
humane way possible, then give us a call:
The Border Patrol. We're hiring!
Wish us luck with that. -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)
-Circus-fuckers need not apply. (AUDIENCE CHEERING)

30 thoughts on “Border Patrol: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)”

  1. It's frustrating how much people and politicians preach about terrorism.. despite the fact that domestic terrorism is a bigger problem than immigrants, you can't stop drug trafficking altogether (especially when you're focused on illegal immigration instead of economic disadvantages and addiction. There are better things to spend tax money on! That doesn't mean we should have a free-for-all, but clearly there are more efficient ways to improve the country. Terrorism legislation is just a distraction from redirecting wealth back to the wealthy.

  2. You agree with John Oliver: "He's a patriot and he's an immigrant"
    You disagree with John Oliver: "He's an immigrant and unpatriotic"
    You people are ridiculous. You don't even realize what you don't know and how you're stuck in your bubble.

  3. I just wanted to point out that you showed Orcas when talking about whales John and er… Orcas aren't whales. Even if they are called "Killer Whales" they're really more "Killer Dolphins".

    Also, that honest advert for Border Patrol is awesome.

  4. Just rememebr Polygraphs aren't admisable in court because you get false positives on lies. They actually cause an issue with hiring in standard law enforcement positions.

  5. We would like to "thank" the US border patrol, ICE, US Military, President Trump, and the supportive American people as we desperately need to improve security and the wall/technologies…such as cameras, solar, lights, fiber optics sensors tunnel-digging near the wall. USA spent 113 billion on illegal immigration in just 2018, a 10-20 billion dollar wall to reduce crime. The GOP needs to take back obstructiveness corrupt DemoRats, who are “The Do Nothing House” back; so that the House of Representatives will fund more money to complete the Trump wall to a reasonable level for the safety of all Americans and help slow down some of the deep state CIA motivated drug-running every year, Over 500 metric tons’ illegal drugs consumed every year, bye children & adults in the USA and much of these drugs cross our borders illegally. The wall helps reduce child abduction/ abuse/ trafficking, rape and reduce, 500,000 to 1,300,000 new illegal immigrants every year, weapons, and crime in the USA. This will slow down the deep state corruption or NWO from destroying the United States' sovereignty and controlling our future. We also need to reelect Trump 2020-2024, President Trump should win by a landslide again so we can improve the wall and Americans' safety. Thankyou American people for help fund the wall and Thank you to Mexico President for putting more troops on both their borders to protect the "American Mexico border crossings from illegal activities."

  6. It isn’t a mixture of humanitarian and law enforcement, it’s just law enforcement. Law enforcement encompasses humanitarian efforts, it’s not all stuff you see on live pd…

  7. 14:50

    For those of you who aren't from the US, one of the pivotal points before our Revolutionary War was the Boston Massacre of 1770 where American colonials were throwing rock-filled snowballs at British redcoats, leading to the shooting death of 5 colonists. We regard it as a paramount part of our history, and a point where we said, "Enough is enough, it's time to fight back."

    So it's all the more ironic when these "true American" patriots see the shooting of a 16 year old for the same reason as a perfectly valid response.

  8. Don't act like they're immigrants trying to cross the border illegally are a large percentage Wing violence the vast majority that aren't great dealers are economic migrants

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