Ever since the Anti-Border Corruption Act of 2010 was signed into law in January, many agents have been under the impression that all current Border Patrol agents would have to undergo a polygraph. That is not true. Under the new law, all applicants will have to undergo a polygraph, along with the standard background investigation, before they will be offered employment with CBP.
The law states that all periodic reinvestigations will have to be conducted in a timely fashion. As we have seen in recent years, there has been a growing backlog of pending periodic reinvestigations. Many PAs were being interviewed by investigators quite a while after their fifth year (and 10th, 15th, etc.) on the job. This law now just forces CBP to get that backlog under control.
The law further states that CBP has two years from the enactment of the Act (it was signed by President Obama on January 4, 2011) to get all applicants in front of a polygraph examiner. In addition, every six months for the next two years, the Secretary of DHS will have to provide a progress report to Congress explaining what progress has been made toward getting the backlog of periodic reinvestigations under control.
Polygraphs have become an increasingly contentious issue as agencies rely more and more on them to root out possible corruption. “Lie detectors,” as polygraphs are commonly called, simply do not detect lies – they merely provide biofeedback that is then “analyzed” by an examiner who is somehow supposed to interpret and decide if the person is lying or not. A polygraph could rule out just as many, if not more, honest people as it will dishonest people.
The National Academy of Sciences issued a report in 2003 that said polygraphs are unreliable and scientists generally tend to give very little credibility to polygraphy.
Polygraphs are inadmissible in a court of law for a reason.
Applicants for law enforcement positions with CBP are the only people who will have to undergo polygraphs under this Act.
Current agents are not required to undergo a polygraph.
You may read the full text of the bill here: