Border agents recruited for Iraq Napolitano: Hirings conflict with homeland security effort Matthew Benson The Arizona Republic May. 19, 2007 12:00 AM Wanted: current and former U.S. Border Patrol agents to train others in border enforcement. Good pay and benefits, room and board included. Exotic locale: Iraq. That's essentially the pitch a Virginia-based military contractor made in Tucson this week as it recruited people with Customs and Border Enforcement experience for a new mission in the Middle East. The company, DynCorp, has been asked by the U.S. State Department to find 120 people to train Iraqis in the security of their country's border. advertisement But the recruiting drive comes as the United States wrestles with its own border security. Calling the DynCorp hirings a contradiction of that effort, Gov. Janet Napolitano wrote President Bush this week to say the deal "makes no sense." DynCorp has contracted with the State Department since 1994 and already has 700 police trainers for local security in Iraq. The request for border security trainers was made in late March and comes amid growing concerns that the country's porous border is allowing a free flow of terrorists, insurgents and weapons that pose a threat to U.S. troops. DynCorp spokesman Gregory Lagana said the company is offering $134,100 for a one-year stay, plus a $25,000 signing bonus. The first $90,000 in income is tax free, and housing and food are free. Border Patrol agents with at least two years' experience make roughly $55,000. Napolitano worries that the DynCorp effort is distracting from another mission: the security of the U.S. border. "We should be focused on supporting our nation's security efforts along the Mexican and Canadian border instead of hampering (Customs and Border Patrol) by sending our best agents to a war zone in Iraq," Napolitano, along with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, wrote Bush. Lagana, who was unsure how many people were recruited in Tucson, brushed aside those concerns. Twenty-three of the 30 recruits who have already deployed for Iraq were former Border Patrol agents. Agent Shannon Stevens, a Border Patrol spokeswoman, noted that the number of personnel sought by DynCorp is "a very small number compared to the agents we have." Arizona's Tucson sector alone employs 2,600 agents, and there are more than 13,350 nationwide. "The issue isn't the numbers," Napolitano spokeswoman Jeanine L'Ecuyer said. "(DynCorp) basically has a contract to skim off Border Patrol agents." With the launch of Operation Jump Start last spring, the president announced the deployment of 6,000 National Guard troops to the border and pledged that they'd be replaced within a few years by an equal number of new Border Patrol agents. But just one year later, half of those National Guard troops will soon be pulled from border duty, and fewer than 350 new agents have been hired.