(The Center Square)
Chris Cabrera, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, testified before Congress about the difficulties faced by Border Patrol agents.
Last year was particularly difficult, he said, with 17 officers taking their own lives.
“To put that into perspective,” he said, the New York City Police Department’s roughly 35,000-man force, they lost 4 to suicide.
“We see a lot of things there that the average person doesn’t see. What hits people the hardest is what happens with the children,” he said, referring to human trafficking and the unaccompanied young children who are brought in.
“It’s hard work,” he says. “It’s getting harder and harder because we’re not able to do the job we’ve been trained to do. The Border Patrol is the only union in the history of unions that actually demands more work.
“Let us work. Let’s do our job,” he pleaded.
Cabrera testified Wednesday before the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee in a hearing on border security in Pharr, Texas, on behalf of 16,000 Border Patrol agents the NBPC represents.
“Morale is down significantly,” he said. “Our officers are frustrated that we are babysitters,” he said, referring to being tasked with processing and releasing illegal alien nationals in the United States instead of deporting them, securing border and thwart cartel activities – tasks they are trained to do.
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“About 30 to 40 percent of our officers go to the field on any given day,” he said, but then they are called back to process documents or transport people to drop-off points. “The real bad guys, the smugglers who harm the people who create jobs in this country or who traffic people are running away and that affects the officers in their desire to do their jobs,” he said. .
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In fiscal year 2022, Border Patrol agents apprehended an unprecedented 2.2 million illegal aliens, he said, about five times the number apprehended in the past year. of the Trump administration “and a clear sign of the failure of this administration’s border policies”. he said.
About half of those arrested last year were deported under Title 42, he said, which expires in May. The majority who were not deported were released back to the United States. Agents have also reported “well over 1.2 million confirmed leaks” over the past two years, those who intentionally seek to evade capture by law enforcement.
“They just got away because we didn’t have enough officers to apprehend them,” he said. “To put that into perspective, we are currently in the Rio Grande Valley with a population of 1.3 million. Almost the entire population of this region entered this country illegally because we lacked the manpower to stop them. If that’s not the definition of a problem, I don’t know what is.
To solve the “chaos at the border,” he said two solutions could be implemented immediately: end capture and release and hire more Border Patrol agents.
Cabrera said he’s made these suggestions before, including when he testified before the US Senate Homeland Security Committee in 2015. They will continue to come. It’s that simple.
He also said that ending politics is the law and that the Biden administration is breaking it. “Ending catch and release,” he said, “is the law. Section 235(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act requires Homeland Security to detain all apprehended migrants entering illegally.
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The law allows officials to “cancel individuals on a case-by-case basis for pressing humanitarian reasons or an important public interest,” he said, but that’s “not what the Biden administration has been doing for the past two years.”
He also said it was up to Congress to ensure that Border Patrol agents could fulfill their mission of securing the border and that it should prioritize the retention and recruitment of agents.
“Border Patrol personnel currently hovers around 19,300 officers,” he said, pointing to Tucson Area Chief Joe Modlin. testimony last month before the House Oversight Committee that at least 22,000 officers are needed to deal with the current crisis.
“Increasing the net workforce by 2,700 officers,” he said, “may sound simple,” but it “is going to take a significant amount of effort.” Border Patrol has “a problem” as its current attrition rate is 6.9% – 72% higher than the Bureau of Field Operations – and is expected to “climb to over 9% by 2028”.
The main reason Border Patrol can’t recruit and retain officers is that it doesn’t have pay parity with other federal law enforcement agencies, he said. If Border Patrol “continues to bleed personnel, there is no way to secure the border,” he warned.
Syndicated with permission from The central square.