A Border Patrol agent from the McAllen station patrols on horseback in South Texas.

A Border Patrol agent from the McAllen station patrols on horseback in South Texas. Donna Burton / CBP file photo

Lawmakers, DHS Look to Improve Border Patrol Compensation

A weekly roundup of pay and benefits news.

A House lawmaker has introduced legislation to ensure that U.S. Border Patrol agents are better compensated for their first 10 hours of overtime each week.

The Border Pay Security Act (H.R. 2335), introduced by Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to include language guaranteeing that Border Patrol agents receive time and a half for the first 20 hours of overtime they accrue in a two-week pay period. The bill complements another piece of legislation intended to simplify the overtime payment process for members of the U.S. Border Patrol.

A 2014 law governing how the Homeland Security Department compensates Border Patrol employees offered agents increased base pay and a more stable work schedule in exchange for a limit on overtime. The Border Patrol Agent Pay Reform Amendments Act (H.R. 1392), introduced in February by Reps. Cuellar and Will Hurd, R-Texas, would simplify how agents choose their work schedule for the coming year and give greater flexibility in working overtime.

Similar legislation passed unanimously out of the House in the last session of Congress, although the Senate did not take up the bill. Hurd and Cuellar said the measures should help the agency with its struggles to recruit and retain agents, who often elect to take more lucrative and stable jobs elsewhere in law enforcement.

“The men and women of Border Patrol have highly demanding jobs and are our most important assets on the front line,” Hurd said in a statement. “We must take care of them and ensure that they are being compensated for the grueling hours they put in to secure our borders.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Wednesday announced another effort to encourage high-ranking Border Patrol agents to stay on the job: a 5% retention incentive for GS-12 and GS-13 agents.

Beginning in May, agents who participate in a 12-month service agreement will receive the incentive—5% of their base salary—on a quarterly basis, with the first payments to be sent out in September.

“Investing in the men and women of the United States Border Patrol continues to be my top priority,” said U.S. Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost. “Their experience and expertise is critical to successfully accomplishing the border security mission.”