Border Patrol agents have seen their mission become more difficult over the past eight years, largely due to the Obama administration’s policy of releasing illegal immigrants apprehended at the border into the U.S., according to the leader of the Border Patrol agents’ union.
“The single biggest factor driving our illegal immigration right now is our catch and release program,” Brandon Judd, the president of the National Border Patrol Council, explained in written testimony prepared for a hearing Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest.
When illegal immigrants are detained at or near the border, Border Patrol interviews them and, in many cases, must release them into the U.S. All the illegal immigrant must do, Judd wrote, is claim he or she has been in the U.S. since 2014, and agents release them.
“If you are an unaccompanied minor we will not only release you, but will escort you to your final destination. If you are a family unit, we will release you. If you claim credible fear, we will release you. If you are a single male and we do not physically see you cross the border and you claim that you have been in this country since 2014, we will release you,” he explained, adding that the illegal immigrants are not required to offer proof.
According to Judd, the Obama administration is using catch-and-release at an unprecedented level — even people who have clearly just entered the U.S. illegally can ensure their release if they make the appropriate claim.
“We have encountered individuals in the Rio Grande Valley who are still wet from crossing the river, who have claimed they had been in the United States since 2014,” Judd wrote. “Under current Administration policy we processed them and let them go – sometimes without even issuing an [Notice to Appear]. ”
As Judd detailed in his testimony, other factors that have contributed to hampering Border Patrol’s efforts are the increased power of the Mexican cartels along the U.S.-Mexico border and, what he termed, a “lack of management accountability.”
“Drug cartels control the illegal activity along our border in the same way gangs control illegal activity within our prisons,” he wrote. “Nothing moves along the border in the U.S. or Mexico without the cartel’s permission. For the cartels, illegal alien and narcotic smuggling are two lines of huge business that brings in billions in annual revenue.”
How many billions? Judd estimated that for one Mexican cartel in the Rio Grande Valley the total revenue from just smuggling illegal immigrants into the U.S. is over $1.7 billion. He added that the revenue also helps to further the cartel’s reach into U.S. cities and communities.
Judd took the Obama administration to task for failing to take on the problem of border security but offering talking points claiming the border is secure.
“You do not talk about the Mexican drug cartels,” he said.
You do not talk about the fact that every day on average a Border Patrol Agent is seriously assaulted. You do not talk about how 20 percent of the individuals we are apprehending now are convicted felons and have previously been deported. You do not talk about any of this. You talk about how apprehensions are down and how well things are going. And you punish anyone who has the temerity not to echo the Administration’s talking points.