The U.S. Border Patrol’s El Paso Sector was declared a “High Risk Enforcement Area (HREA)” due to an alarming increase in the number of assaults on our Border Patrol agents. The declaration came in March of 2013, but the numbers have continued to rise, according to Stu Harris, Vice-President Local 1929 of the National Border Patrol Council.
The Local 1929 serves BP agents in the El Paso Sector, which covers the entire state of New Mexico and the two western most counties in Texas, totaling 125,500 square miles, 121,000 square miles in New Mexico and 4,500 square miles in Texas. There are 268 miles of international boundary, according to the U.S. Homeland Security official website.
“The total numbers of apprehensions of illegal aliens from Mexico are down, but the number of criminal aliens being apprehended are on the rise since FY 2011,” said Vice-President Harris in an exclusive interview with Breitbart News. “The physical assaults on Border Patrol agents are increasing in numbers and in frequency this year”
Harris added that the lack of Border Patrol coverage due to Sequestration, coupled with comprehensive immigration reform becoming a central issue in U.S. political dialogue, has become a perfect storm scenario that leaves the men and women who serve with Border Patrol less safe and U.S. borders unsecured. “Sequestration is putting our agents at more risk than is needed,” he said. “Our Border Patrol agents are less safe now and the dangers are increasing as they are more often working alone in isolated areas.”
Harris went on to say “Not only is sequestration leaving our agents vulnerable and alone in desolate areas, thereby risking their lives, but current issues regarding pay reform within the U.S. Border Patrol agency are also posing a grave risk to the safety of our agents and the American pubic they serve. We are fighting for pay reform for our agents so they can work the hours they need to work, move towards better securing the border, and also save the tax-payers a lot of money.”
Harris described the current situation with Sequestration and said Border Patrol agents were being taken off of critical areas along the U.S./Mexico border due to a desire on the part of the U.S. Border Patrol Agency to save funds. “As it currently stands, there are gaping holes in our border coverage due to agents being sent home over pay issues as a result of sequestration.” Our pay reform efforts will actually lower the costs and keep the needed agents in the needed places for the appropriate amount of time for our borders to be more secure,” he said.
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(Brandon Darby recently toured the El Paso Sector and his work on the area will be released later this week on Breitbart News.)