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BROOKS COUNTY — Though he is not in law enforcement, Mike Vickers is a witness to the gruesome, tragic consequences of illegal immigration. He sees them in his "backyard" amid the vast, rugged ranches of South Texas.
Large processions of illegal immigrants and human and drug smugglers, sometimes in groups of 30 or more, regularly cut through his cattle ranch south of Falfurrias to skirt a Border Patrol checkpoint. The checkpoint off U.S. 281 is about four miles south of Vickers' home and (...)
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The recruitment of agents and their retention have long been challenges for the agency, which began the decade with little more than 4,000 of them and would have 18,000 by the end of 2008 under the president's plan. The agency recently raised the maximum age of cadets to 40 from 37 and has stepped up recruiting with a television commercial draped in patriotic themes and broadcast in large cities in the North and the Midwest, the idea being to widen the pool of applicants beyond the Southwest, a customary stronghold.
The agency has also been having particular trouble recruiting blacks and Asians, with whites accounting for 35 percent of recent hires and Latinos 62 percent. Blacks and Asians each account for less than 1 percent.