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Border Patrol Loosens Grooming, Tattoo Standards Amid Recruiting Crisis

Border Patrol is loosening its grooming and dress standards to allow agents to have tattoos and wear different hairstyles amid a recruiting crisis, according to an internal agency memo obtained exclusively by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Agents will now be allowed to have tattoos or brandings on the hands and neck, according to the Sept. 29 memo, which Border Patrol Chief Jason Owens sent to agency leadership. The agency has been increasing efforts to recruit more agents to the force by offering thousands of dollars in sign-on bonuses.

“We’re having a mass retirement exodus and recruitment is very low. The previous standards wouldn’t allow new hires with beards and tattoos to be hired. Leadership wants to target military and law enforcement recruitment. Worst idea ever,” a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) source, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, told the DCNF.

The new standard permits female agents to wear “ponytails and one or two braids,” while male agents can have beards, according to the memo. Additionally, both male and female agents are allowed to have afros, twists, locks or cornrows.

CBP confirmed that changes are being made in a statement to the DCNF.

“The U.S. Border Patrol updated its uniform and grooming standards to align more closely with other law enforcement agencies as well as the U.S. military. These changes enhance our ability to maintain a diverse workforce that stands ready to defend our nation’s borders,” a CBP spokesperson told the DCNF.

New recruits are being offered $10,000 bonuses if they complete training and if they go to a “hard-to-fill duty location,” they are eligible to receive an additional $10,000 recruitment bonus, according to CBP. The agency is also recruiting its retired agents to return to the force.

Illegal immigration surging at the southern border has hit agents hard, coinciding with low morale and an increase in suicides. The agency hired its first suicidologist, Dr. Kent Corso, in 2021.

“Under the current administration, we are not allowed to do the full functions of the Border Patrol, the enforcement aspect,” National Border Patrol Council Vice President At-Large Sergio Moreno previously told the DCNF.

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