Border Patrol has been forced to cancel all physical and mental health programs for agents, including suicide prevention and firearms training, to transport and process the thousands of migrants who surged across the southern border near El Paso last week.
According to the Washington Examiner, El Paso Sector Chief Anthony "Scott" Good gave the order to suspend operational requirements for more than 2,000 regional agents due to the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.
"Due to the unprecedented migrant surge and the current operational environment, effective Sunday, September 24, 2023, Firearms Qualifications, Use of Force Training, Suicide Awareness Training, Honor Guard and Recruiting events, and the participation of the Physical Fitness Program (PFP) will be temporarily paused throughout El Paso Sector (EPT) for a minimum of two weeks due to operational requirements," Good wrote in an email last week to West Texas and New Mexico division chiefs, obtained by the Examiner.
According to the outlet, the email's authenticity was verified by two sector officials and a supervisor.
Border Patrol agents are trained to respond to dangerous situations outside normal shifts and must be recertified in firearms each quarter. Those firearms trainings, as well as regional hiring events and Honor Guard protocols, are currently paused due to conditions at the border.
"We do firearms and defense tactics on a regular basis," one official told the Examiner. "We are very well trained. To be placed on standby for a little while is no biggie."
Of greater concern was the suspension of the suicide awareness training, which is mandated by the Department of Homeland Security and comes at a time when workloads are staggeringly high.
According to an official who spoke with the Examiner, the suicide prevention program focuses on "giving agents different ways to become resilient in life with situations." The curriculum reportedly includes the importance of gratitude, value-based living, capitalizing on strengths, reframing, balancing thinking, mindfulness, spiritual resilience, physical resilience, interpersonal problem solving, and celebrating good news.
Making matters worse, Border Patrol agents will no longer be able to spend an hour each shift developing their physical fitness, and will have to work out on their own time.
"It gave agents an opportunity to work out during the shift to take care of themselves," a third employee told the Examiner.
Last week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) temporarily shut down cargo processing at the Bridge of the Americas (BOTA) port of entry in El Paso, Texas, so officers could assist in processing the surge of migrants.
The Bridge of the Americas port connects El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.
"The temporary suspension at BOTA will allow CBP's Office of Field Operations officers to assist the U.S. Border Patrol in processing noncitizens who have arrived between the ports of entry, including vulnerable populations like families and unaccompanied children," an agency spokesperson said in a statement at the time.
"CBP regularly plans for and executes contingency measures, such as this, to support the overarching agency mission and ensure the safety and wellbeing of those in the agency's custody," it added.
Nicole Wells, a Newsmax general assignment reporter covers news, politics, and culture. She is a National Newspaper Association award-winning journalist.
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