SAN ANTONIO, Texas — DHS Joint Task Force West Director Manuel Padilla, Jr. discussed the current state of the border in a recent interview with Breitbart News regarding the impacts of transnational criminal organizations and national security implications.
“When one visits the border, you will see the compassion of the agents,” Director Padilla told the Director of the Breitbart Border and Cartel Chronicles projects Brandon Darby during the 45-minute interview. “You will see the agents rescuing this year over 4,500 rescues. You will see somebody assaulting the agents. And I’m going to say it, unfortunately, you will see some misconduct by one agent, which is not the norm.”
“So the border has all these things,” the director stated. “If we were to portray an objective picture of what’s happening on the border, I think every American will understand that…having a secure border is not an option…it’s a matter of national security.”
Prior to his appointment as the Department of Homeland Security’s Joint Task Force — West, Padilla served as Chief Patrol agent for the Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol Sector — the nation’s busiest sector for migrant apprehensions.
“Do you think the physical barriers really do matter?” Darby asked Director Padilla. “Oh absolutely, absolutely,” the director emphatically responded.
“I actually started talking about those things when we were very busy in South Texas,” Padilla explained. “And if you look at it proportionally, the tactical infrastructure that we have — to include the walls — is a lot less in South Texas than in other parts of the country.”
Due to actions taken by the Trump Administration, Border Patrol officials report a sharp decrease in the apprehensions of people illegally crossing the border from Mexico. Those actions include negotiations with Mexican and Central American governments to allow migrants seeking asylum to remain outside the U.S. for their hearing dates and gaining the cooperation from Mexico in deploying its own National Guard to help curtail the flow of migrants to its northern border with the United States.
“What this administration has done in engaging with Mexico and also engaging with Central America — signing those accords with the Northern Triangle countries — I think those are huge steps in order for us collectively to address these problems,” Director Padilla told Darby.
“Illegal immigration is not just a problem for the United States,” he explained. “It’s a problem for Mexico and it’s a problem for those countries where people are leaving from.”
“If you keep those levels of emigration, people leaving their countries, what does their future look like when they have a lot of young people, a lot of the future workforce, a lot of their brainpower leaving the country?” the director asked. “I think when you start engaging with those countries — Mexico, Central America, or whoever we have a common interest with — and collectively start addressing those issues, I think there’s a lot of potential to bringing all these countries up to be able to deal and have a stake in the issue.”
The director discussed the cruelty of the Mexican cartels and their iron-fisted control of the border.
“During November of 2018, there was a young lady that was coming in. I believe she was from Guatemala,” Padilla explained. “She freelanced and crossed into the Brownsville Area of Operations and she did not pay the cartels.”
“This young lady was eight months pregnant,” the director continued. “When the agents encountered her, she was beaten up so bad by the cartels, or by criminal organized crime, because she had not paid those dues.”
Padilla said agents took the young woman directly to the hospital where she delivered a stillborn child. He said the baby died because of the beating. She also required dialysis in the aftermath.
President Donald Trump appointed Director Padilla to lead the Department of Homeland Security’s Joint Task Force-West in October 2018. The task force coordinates the assets and personnel of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the U.S. Coast Guard, and other federal agencies to secure the U.S. southwest border.