US senators seek relaxed screening of border patrol applicants
Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Three Republican senators, hoping to speed the hiring of law enforcement agents on U.S. borders, on Friday introduced legislation waiving lie detector tests for job applicants who already serve in law enforcement or have done military service.

The "Boots on the Border Act" was backed by Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson, Senator John McCain, a member of that panel, and Senator Jeff Flake, who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees immigration policy.

Flake, in a statement, noted that long screening procedures have resulted in 1,768 Border Patrol positions and 1,046 Customs and Border Protection jobs remaining unfilled.

At the same time, the Department of Homeland Security has plans to add more than 5,000 border enforcement agents to the current force.

The legislation, which would have to go through several steps in the Senate and House of Representatives before it could become law, comes as the Trump administration is stepping up deportations of illegal immigrants. It also is moving to restrict travel in the United States for people from six predominately Muslim countries, a move that faces legal challenges.

Under the Senate bill, CBP could waive current polygraph requirements for applicants who have been working in federal, state and local law enforcement for the past three years, have clean employment records and have successfully completed polygraph and other background investigations.

The bill also would cover U.S. armed forces personnel and veterans.

“This legislation would address CBP’s chronic staffing shortage by streamlining background tests for qualified veterans, military service members, and law enforcement officers in good standing," McCain said in a statement.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Dan Grebler)