The single and unchanging reality on the U.S. borders is the fact that those who are trying to get into the U.S. illegally never take a day off. Proposals to decertify Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime (AUO) ignore this reality, essentially stripping Border Patrol agents of
the ability to pursue criminals or prevent an illegal crossing the moment their eighth hour of the shift is over.
Patrolling the border is an unpredictable duty that often requires agents to go above and beyond the eight-hour shift to effectively protect the country. You can’t control when a dangerous cartel or potential terrorist will choose to cross—and in fact, the majority of illegal crossings
intentionally happen just before the shift changes.
We agree that AUO is not a perfect solution, and that the pay reform bill to be introduced by Sen. Jon Tester and Rep. Jason Chaffetz is the long-term solution for securing the border and providing agents with fair compensation, while saving taxpayers money. Congress should act on it quickly. In the interim, AUO is what we have as the stopgap solution to enable Border Patrol agents to continue the pursuit of a criminal when overtime is demanded to get the job done.
What we cannot do is to throw out the stopgap solution without a new system in place. Without pay reform or the ability to use AUO, Border Patrol agents would be forced to surrender the chase for a criminal, or turn a blind eye to illegal crossings as soon as their eighth hour ends. We would immediately see an uptick in smuggling by cartels and illegal crossings in areas previously termed as “under control.”
The elimination of AUO based on the misdeeds of a few helps only the criminals we work to stop every day. It is shortsighted and simply reactionary to leave agents on the border without the flexibility to finish the job. Americans ask Border Patrol agents to put their lives on the line to keep their country safe. We cannot expect agents with families at home to continue to put their lives on the line without fair compensation in place.