The good news coming from border patrol agents is that the number of apprehensions of illegal aliens along the border declined dramatically last year. Unfortunately, the number of assaults on United States Customs and Border Patrol (USCBP) agents has increased significantly.
While the Trump administration’s “simple promise to enforce the laws” resulted in fewer people entering the country illegally, there was 76 percent increase in violence toward and assaults on border patrol agents in 2017, according to Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council.
“There is not a day that goes by where at least one Agent is not being sent to the hospital,” Judd said at a hearing of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security.
A total of 786 agents were assaulted in FY2017, which ended on September 30. In the first two months of FY 2018, 96 Border Patrol agents were assaulted in the line of duty.
“As National President, I am typically called when an Agent is seriously assaulted. I have to tell you, when my phone rings in the middle of the night my heart skips a beat,” he added.
Judd said the driving force behind the violence is the drug cartels, criminal aliens trying to reenter the United States, and a deficit in manpower.
Over the years cross border crime, including human smuggling, has grown into a multi-billion industry, so cartels and gangs now have the financial resources to evade law enforcement, including building elaborate tunnels and hiding spaces in trucks.
The level of their activity can be seen in two recent reports.
According to a recent report, the number of cocaine seizures and MS-13 gang member arrests in the Rio Grande Valley increased 172 percent since October 2017.
In the past three months, agents have seized 463 pounds of cocaine with an estimated value of nearly $15 million and a total of 53 MS-13 gang members were apprehended. That represents an increase of 212 percent compared to the same time period last year.
According to the USCBP’s Office of Field Operations in Laredo, Texas, agents seized $12.1 million in narcotics and captured more than 80 fugitives between December 15, 2017 and January 7, 2018.
Those arrested included individuals with outstanding warrants for sexual assault of a child, statutory rape of a disabled minor and indecency with a child-sexual contact, respectively.
Chronic understaffing and a similar lack of resources significantly hampers the agents, says Judd. Exacerbating the cycle is that Congress has failed to properly fund the U.S. Attorneys’ offices, which has resulted in few of the cases being prosecuted. The inability of the legal system to hold violent criminals to account only feeds the deadly cycle lamented Judd.