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HODGDON (NEWS CENTER) -- For the first time, border patrol agents will have the opportunity to return to Maine after their 15 month training period on the southern border.
The first six interns of the Northern Border Intern Program were sworn in for duty in Hodgdon. These six will fly to Texas on Sunday and return to Maine after they complete the training.
The Program is designed to help attract more border patrol agents to Maine. The program was open for applications in Maine and the Houlton Sector received around 700 interested applicants.
"We got together with headquarters and decided that it would be a great idea to hire people from the state who knew what this state was all about already," said Joseph Mellia, Chief of the Houlton Sector Border Patrol.
"So we shouldn't have that culture shock from folks who are down from Texas and California coming up to Maine and saying 'oh my gosh, what did I get myself into?'," Mellia said.
Mellia said that the Department of Homeland Security is hoping to increase the number of Maine border patrol agents - estimated at around 130.
The program is now closed for applications as Houlton's sector tries to process the remaining applications, but Mellia says that if they are looking into increasing numbers in the future, they will consider the program again.
Five of the six people sworn in Friday are from Maine.
Michael Matheson is from Houlton and said that he hopes for a long term career with the border patrol.
"The opportunity to go and help people on the Southwest border, uphold the constitution, protect the homeland, it's always been a feeling being in the criminal justice program to be out there knowing that you're helping people, you're helping communities. It's always been interesting to me," he said.
Matheson has never been to Texas and looks forward to the opportunity to expose himself to a new culture.
"One of the big pluses, I mean winter is just around the corner up here. I won't be having that down there so that will be nice to get a little vacation from the Maine winter, but it's just, separate cultures. There's going to be a totally different culture down there compared to up here. It's going to be nice to kind of experience that," he said.

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