Border Patrol agents caught in the middle of immigration crisis
Pulled from the front lines and forced into service as babysitters for thousands of lost children sounds absurd, right? That is precisely what Border Patrol agents say is happening. Frustrated by a broken U.S. immigration policy, they’ve assembled in a San Diego union meeting to air their gripes as they look for answers. Immigration officials are in crisis mode as they struggle to keep up with the job of processing the men, women and all those children newly arrived in the United States begging for amnesty. On the front line of the crisis: the U.S. Border Patrol. Agent and lead union representative Gabriel Pacheco says he has never seen anything like it and he is nearly 20 years of service.
“No, I haven’t, no. They’re taking advantage of the law, you know, coming across. Yeah, we have discretion whether or not we apprehend individuals at certain times and moments. And I know these people are coming across because they are fleeing poverty, the violence that’s happening in Central America; Honduras is the murder capital of the world. There’s a lot of compassion for the agents, but also we need to do our job as enforcement officials for the immigration laws of our country.”
Pacheco, speaking as a Border Patrol agent union rep, says the ranks are being pulled in two directions.
“And so they need to be out in the field – they don’t need to be babysitting, changing diapers and processing. What could help though is if the National Guard were to be called out. I know that was something that the lawmakers were calling out. They can’t necessarily arrest because they don’t have the arrest authority, but what would help us locally – if they went around the cameras – would be doing support duties that normally an agent would be doing.”
Agents say they’ve been warning of this kind of crisis for years and pleading for help.
“People have been coming here for years and years, and this is basically highlighting the process that’s been happening since 2012 specifically. Coming across the Border, we’ve had Romanians coming across the Border in San Diego and turn themselves over to Border Patrol officials – our agents on the ground. We process them, take them downtown and turn them over to ICE, 80 Front Street, and they get into a car and drive off into the community. And that’s what’s happening right now with these people coming into the country.”
The agency known as ICE, Immigration and Custom Enforcement, has recently released a report that says roughly 35% of the adult migrants that come to the U.S. asking for amnesty never report to their immigration hearing and disappear. 90% of young migrants are said to do the same thing – they disappear into the population, adding to what the Census says is California’s already 1.1 million illegal immigrants.