Budget woes, bureaucratic spats, bad U.S. policy and hostile federal judges are making the job of guarding America's borders more difficult and thankless than ever, a Border Patrol union spokesman told Newsmax TV
"It seems that it's open season on Border Patrol agents," Shawn Moran, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner.
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Moran gave "MidPoint" viewers a glimpse into the lives of the men and women working the country's chaotic Southwestern frontier in the midst of an illegal immigration surge.
Confronted with tens of thousands
of undocumented new arrivals — most fleeing Central American countries, many of them children — agents were routinely shuttling between tasks of emotional extremes: changing diapers on infant migrants one day, recovering bodies in the desert the next.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency and state and local officials have since stepped in to handle basic care and services for what Moran called a "flood of humanity . . . coming through the Rio Grande Valley."
The White House wants $2 billion
in emergency funding to manage a crisis that some observers say the Obama administration triggered beginning in 2012 by relaxing deportation rules for children.
Border agents, meanwhile, have resumed their patrols knowing violent Mexican drug cartels are moving drugs under cover of the latest migrant wave.
"There are still people that are getting away — they are getting around us — and the cartels are managing this to their own advantage," said Moran. "And so, it is still a very dangerous place."
He described Border Patrol employees as "devoted and patriotic" and as "21,000 agents doing a very difficult job under some of the most extreme circumstances."
But he said many are increasingly fed up — with pay cuts, shrinking resources, "lip service" from Congress, and an official White House policy of "catch and release" for undocumented immigrants that only encourages more illegal border crossings.
"I talked to a lot of agents that have said, 'They're cutting my pay. We're working in conditions that are beyond ridiculous,'" said Moran. "And so, they've decided that for their family, for the good of their career, they're going to look for either state or local law-enforcement jobs, or for other federal agencies. I can't say I blame them."
Compounding the difficulties, he said, was a federal appeals court ruling
on Monday that a Border Patrol agent who shot and killed a 15-year-old Mexican boy in 2010 can be sued even though the agent fired from the U.S. side of the border into Mexico.
"So, it's really a thankless job," said Moran.
He said reports of people forming human chains at the border or conducting vigilante patrols
are less of a concern.
"Border Patrol agents know that the citizenry of the United States supports them," he said. "Our agents are well-trained, and they realize that the anger is not directed at them."
But Moran said the federal government must take steps to reduce the flow of migrants. He singled out the catch-and-release policy of letting detained immigrants go free pending hearings on their status.
"You cannot be complicit in getting people further into the United States by giving them bus tickets, giving them a notice to appear, when you know good and well that 80 percent-plus do not show up for these immigration hearings," said Moran. "So, we need to close that loophole, and hopefully that will help stem the tide."
He said the Border Patrol's funding and mission are muddled by "bureaucratic turf battles" among a handful of agencies under the Department of Homeland Security that have "many overlapping jurisdictions in terms of authority and job descriptions, but nobody really working together."
Moran seconded Texas Gov. Rick Perry's call for President Barack Obama to visit the border.
"He needs to go to the McAllen [Border Patrol] station [in southeastern Texas] and see the children and the adults that are just packed into these stations," said Moran. "He needs to see the Border Patrol agents that have people dozens deep waiting to be processed . . . But he [also] needs to go to the border as well, the actual line, and see just what we're dealing with."
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