EXCLUSIVE from AUSTIN, Texas — U.S. Border Patrol agents stationed along the southern border have nothing left in the tank.
For months, agents have warned that morale within the ranks of the federal law enforcement organization is sinking, but the last shreds of spirit have since been dashed by outright animosity from the Biden administration, agents tell the Washington Examiner.
“Under Biden, things are the worst they have ever been by far,” said one agent who is based in Arizona. “Agents are calling in all the time. You always hear, ‘It doesn’t matter,’ or, ‘What’s the point?’ in reference to doing our job. Agents are afraid of ending up on the news for doing their job or getting in trouble for doing their job. There is no morale.”
Eight agents and managers assigned to the southern border spoke with the Washington Examiner on the condition of anonymity about their experiences working during the largest migration event in U.S. history. The physical workload has been brutal, as has the change in policies from President Donald Trump to Joe Biden. But the biggest factor in the demoralization of the Border Patrol has been the feeling that Biden has demonized agents for enforcing immigration laws that lawmakers like him passed in Congress.
Border Patrol agents were deemed the heroes of the Uvalde school massacre in Texas after they ran into the gunfire and fatally shot the Robb Elementary School gunman while local law enforcement refused to act. Despite this, agents said Biden has yet to thank them for stepping in, even though Biden was quick to condemn them last September over reports that a mounted agent allegedly “whipped” a Haitian migrant trying to enter the United States from Mexico.
“Del Rio pissed us all off,” the first agent said. “Uvalde just adds to it. I think at this point, we are beyond pissed. We expect Biden to continue to attack us. Making a concerted effort to ignore what we did is expected.”
A second agent said the administration’s response, as well as the lack of a conclusion in the investigation into the Border Patrol whipping incident, have been a “major morale killer,” more so than their workload.
“All they have done is basically stomped on us from the get-go. And they’ve condemned us on every turn,” the second agent said. “People are pretty much fed up with how this administration is treating Border Patrol agents because all we’ve been doing this whole time is what they’ve told us to do, which is really bad policy.”
Since Biden took office in January 2021, the number of noncitizens apprehended attempting to sneak into the country or denied admission at a port of entry has increased threefold, topping 200,000 encounters per month on numerous occasions. Conservatives have blamed the record-high numbers on Biden’s decision to reverse policies put forward by the Trump administration, while Democrats have pointed to tanking pandemic economies across Latin America as having prompted millions to flee for the U.S. and other countries.
More than 2 million migrants were stopped while attempting to enter the U.S. from Mexico illegally in the calendar year 2021, an astronomical figure. Of the 2 million, roughly 1.1 million were immediately expelled back to Mexico or flown to other countries. Some attempted crossing multiple times, inflating the numbers. But nearly 800,000 were released into the U.S.
Border Patrol agents have complained about a lack of interest or enthusiasm for the job before, including during lower spikes of illegal migration under Trump. However, agents said they felt supported at the end of the day, even to varying degrees under President Barack Obama, despite budget cuts to the agency.
“When I joined under the Bush administration, my morale was an all-time high, and so were my peers. We did our job. Then Obama/Biden came around. The morale sunk due to that administration’s policies, but we were still able to somehow do our jobs,” said a third agent, this one from Texas. He recently spoke to other agents at “choir practice,” a term referring to a cookout where attendees spend time venting together, and they talked of struggling to get up and mustering energy to go to work.
A fourth agent described work as nothing more than a paycheck and sometimes a source of guilt because “it feels like we’re committing a crime by allowing all these people into our country” versus expeditiously removing them or transferring them to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for detention through the duration of immigration proceedings in court.
Many agents voiced frustration that leadership in Washington at the agency and department levels continues to maintain that agents have “operational control” — meaning they are aware of and can respond to any illegal activity.
An agent who quit late last year wrote in his resignation letter that the job had become “unrecognizable,” as the majority of agents on a shift were no longer patrolling the border but transporting, intaking, and releasing people who had illegally entered the country, a federal crime.
“We’re getting overwhelmed, then, we’re locked inside with these people in processing, leaving the line way open or with only one or two agents out there, which is an officer safety issue,” a fifth agent said, referring to the “line” where agents are normally assigned on the border. “Since smugglers are used to getting away, when an agent decides to initiate a vehicle stop, they take off and lead to crazy pursuits.”
A sixth agent said Border Patrol leaders across the southern border post on social media about agents’ lifesaving rescues daily, but the posts fail to mention that the noncitizen whose life agents saved was likely trying to evade getting caught and that agents are meant to serve a law enforcement purpose.
He claimed the Biden administration was “sugar coating” their work and “bending the narrative to make yourself or the administration look better.”
The number of deaths of noncitizens in Border Patrol custody has spiked given the rise in people being taken into custody, as has the number of people released from custody.
Agents do not see a positive change in the current situation on the horizon but rather harder times in the coming months as a pandemic public health policy that affected border operations is rolled back — and with it, the Border Patrol’s ability to turn away roughly half of all illegal immigrants.
CBP did not respond to a request for comment.
* Article from: The Washington Examiner