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By Tim Gaynor
TUCSON, Arizona (Reuters) - Thamayya Dobbs works at a call center in Arizona. But in the current economy, he says he is thinking very hard about retraining as a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
"There's more job security, stability for my family," said Dobbs, 35, as he visited a U.S. Customs and Border Protection recruitment fair in Tucson this weekend.
While the U.S. economy shed tens of thousands of jobs last week, the government agency responsible for securing the country's borders is seeking to hire 11,000 workers in a national recruitment drive this year.
In the current downturn, those jobs have a special allure. Thousands of people turned out for the agency's 15 "National Career Day" hiring events from California to Florida on Saturday, to find out about retraining as border police officers or working in support roles such as mechanics, program analysts and information technology specialists.
In Tucson alone, 800 people flocked to the hiring event in just the first three hours.
While the jobs on offer are statistically a drop in the bucket at a time when the broader U.S. economy has lost more than 210,000 thousands jobs since the start of the year, they highlight the appeal of working for the federal government at a time of economic uncertainty.
"At Customs and Border Protection, we offer very good career opportunities within one agency, and all under the one premise of securing America," spokeswoman Tara Dunlop told Reuters.