Flashback: Obama Official Claimed Border 'Adequately Staffed' Six Days Before Obama Ask
Six days before President Obama called for more funding to address the tens of thousands of unaccompanied children streaming across the southern U.S. border, a top Obama administration official said the border patrol was “adequately staffed” and had the “resources available” to deal with the problem.
The remarks, given the abrupt turnaround by Obama, drew the ire of Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who slammed the witness Ronald D. Vitiello, Deputy Chief of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, for “misleading” Congress.
"They misled Congress and then blamed Congress. That's how unorganized they are. We're hearing testimony from the leader of the border patrol saying they have adequate staff. Nobody believed them when they said it. Then, a few days later, they changed their mind,” Chaffetz told Breitbart News.
“It’s our — it’s my assessment in what we heard from the leadership on the ground down there, the agents that are involved in this crisis: We are adequately staffed, and even better staffed that we were this time last year. So we are concerned, as this goes on, about staffing levels and our ability to do the other patrol border functions,” Vitiello said Tuesday when asked about Border Patrol staffing levels by committee ranking member Bennie Thompson (D-MS).
“But the reports that we got on Friday, I’m very comfortable that they have the resources that are available and they’re using them in an adequate way to protect the border,” Vitiello continued. “This isn’t a security problem in the sense that this population, both the families units and the children, are not trying to evade apprehension at the border. They are essentially coming in an area that’s well known by us, well patrolled by us and they’re not evading arrest and the other locations along the border — we’re better staffed, we’re at the same staffing we had at last year. There is some risk involved here, but the reports we heard Friday don’t concern me.”
A day later, at a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Chaffetz pressed Vitiello about his assertion that Border Patrol is “adequately staffed.”
“When we visited with the secretary we were told by the folks on the ground there that the issue of large numbers of family units and these children are entering in a specific area. My remarks yesterday were designed to inform everyone that the deployments outside of those two zones are as well staffed as they were last year, or better staffed,” Vitiello elaborated.
Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd, also testifying before the Judiciary Committee, explained at the time to Chaffetz that the issue has been about where and what personnel is being required to go and do.
“We are adequately staffed to process them, but we have to strip the line to do it. So we create holes on the line. So yes, we’re able to process these people, there is no doubt about that. But the actual border takes a hit because we have to take people out of the field to do that processing,” Judd said.
Speaking to Breitbart News, Chaffetz was frustrated about the administration’s changing story.
“If the president wants to make the case that Congress won't do anything, maybe his administration should stop misleading us,” Chaffetz said, in reference to Obama’s Monday Rose Garden announcement that he will be taking executive action to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws in the wake of Congressional inaction.