Approximately 40 percent of Border Patrol agents assigned to the southwest border are being pulled from front-line national security duties to provide humanitarian services for migrants families crossing the border in record numbers.
“We’re shifting large portions of personnel and resources away from our border security mission to address these large groups, family units, and unaccompanied children,” U.S. Border Patrol Chief Law Enforcement Operations Director Brian Hastings told reporters on a conference call unveiling the Southwest Border Migration Report this week. “This poses a significant increase to the risk of national security.”
“The resources that we’re pulling away from national security have a negative effect on law enforcement mission,” the Border Patrol operations chief explained. “Currently each day we’re pulling approximately 40% of our agents on the Southwest border, and diverting them specifically for the humanitarian need, that is to care for, transport and process family units and UACs (Unaccompanied Alien Children).”
In addition to the negative impact on border security operations, the surge of migrants families is draining the agency’s budget, Hastings asserted.
“In fiscal year 2019 to date we’ve expended over $90 million on humanitarian support costs,” he told reporters. “We project we will expend over $100 million by the end of the year.”
“Since December 22, 2018, US Border Patrol has spent over 100,000 hours — agent hours — at a hospital or medical facility,” the chief continued. “In the past three months alone, Border Patrol has expended over $4 million in salary expenses simply to perform hospital watch for detainees. We project this cost will actually reach almost $12 million in salary expenditures for the year in order just to perform hospital watch for detainees in our custody.”
Hastings explained that on average, agents are transporting more than 60 people per day to medical treatment facilities. “This is the highest we have seen this number since we began tracking this,” he said. “We’re currently on track to refer over 31,000 people for medical treatment this year as compared to only 12,000 during fiscal year 2018.”
He stated that in addition to the hospital watch expenses, other costs including overtime, detail assignments, additional consumables, transportation, medical screening, and humanitarian support “have depleted U.S. Border Patrol’s operational budget.”
Hastings said the problems are expected to get worse in the coming months.
“The only way to address this trend is to change the message that if you bring a child you’ll be allowed entry into our country, Chief Hastings concluded. “To do that, we need an immigration system that allows the government to maintain custody of the family unit through an expeditious immigration proceeding.”