A new record has been set at the southern border, as the Department of Homeland Security revealed Border Patrol agents encountered more than 2.3 million immigrants in the 2022 fiscal year. It’s a 37% increase compared to last year and more than five times the number of encounters from 2020.
Customs and Border Protection said the surge was driven by an influx of migrants from “authoritarian regimes” in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. In fact, Border Patrol encounters with people from those countries increased 245% in September compared to the same month last year.
“CBP and DHS will continue to work with our partners in the region to address the root causes of migration, expand legal pathways, facilitate removals, and take thousands of smugglers off the streets. No matter what smugglers say, those who do not have a legal basis to remain in the country will be removed and people should not make the dangerous journey,” CBP Commissioner Christopher Magnus said in a statement.
This has taken a toll on the Border Patrol’s morale. One senior agent who spoke anonymously to Straight Arrow News said agents are “frustrated”, have a sense of “hopelessness,” and are “physically and emotionally exhausted.”
Another senior agent wrote, “Feel like we aren’t doing the job we were hired to do which is secure the border with HONOR.”
William Jackson retired from the Border Patrol in December 2021 after 24 years of service. He’s able to speak more openly.
“The problem with the Biden administration is they’re using the executive orders as a way to change the way that we enforce the law,” Jackson said. “They can’t do that. The legislative branch is responsible for that.”
Jackson said when this many people are crossing, the system can get overwhelmed.
“So I can see to some degree how they would want to go ahead and streamline it for the people that are coming in. The problem with that is the safety and security of our country is at risk. We are streamlining things to the point we’re allowing people into our country, unvetted,” Jackson said.
There’s also increased scrutiny on the performance of agents. In September 2021, a picture of a Haitian migrant and an agent on horseback led to accusations of agents whipping the immigrants. But an investigation found the agents never whipped anyone, although it did determine they used unnecessary force and vulgar language.
“We know that those images painfully conjured up the worst elements of our nation’s ongoing battle against systemic racism,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said at the White House after the images were initially published.
More than a year after the incident took place, emails revealed Mayorkas was told two hours before those comments that the photos were being misconstrued.
“I’ve never seen them whip anyone,” the photographer said.
Jackson said that comment from Mayorkas showed there was no support for the troops on the ground.
“Even the president and the DHS secretary coming up online and saying, ‘Hey, you know what, we got it wrong this time,’ would have shown the American public how humble our executive branch is, how humble our DHS secretary is to print a retraction. But when you blatantly, you know, lie and continue the lie regardless of the truth,” Jackson said.
One agent told Straight Arrow News he believes Mayorkas should resign if not be fired.
“He turned the president, the administration, and millions of Americans against us,” the agent told SAN.
President Biden also made a public statement.
“I promise you, those people will pay,” President Biden said of the agents involved.
Jackson said the president’s comment “destroys” morale.
“The problem with the president coming online is there wasn’t a full investigation yet,” Jackson said.
The agency’s 2022 fiscal year, which ended on Sept. 30, was also the deadliest 12 months for border-crossers. 856 migrants died trying to enter the U.S. According to Border Patrol figures, drowning and heat exhaustion were among the top causes.
“If you want to go ahead and have a solution to this problem, first of all you gotta enforce the law. Let’s enforce the law. However we can make amends and get people through the legal system here to make a judicial decision. Then let’s do it. Let’s find a way,” Jackson said.