FACT CHECK: Did Border Patrol Lose 25 Percent of Agents Under Biden

US President Joe Biden speaks with border patrol agents as he visits the US-Mexico border
Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP

An article written by the Washington Examiner states in its headline that the “Border Patrol has lost a quarter of [its] workforce since 2020 election.” While the headline and article appear to be technically correct, they leave the impression that there are significantly fewer agents patrolling the border — a conclusion that is not accurate.

In an article by Anna Garitelli titled, “The Biden effect? Border Patrol has lost a quarter of workforce since 2020 election,” the writer claims that more than 4,000 federal agents left the U.S. Border Patrol during the past three and a half fiscal years. Technically, according to U.S. Border Patrol sources who spoke with Breitbart Texas, this is correct.
The Washington Examiner reports:

The Border Patrol comprises more than 19,000 agents. Between October 2020 and April 2024, exactly 4,281 federal law enforcement agents left the organization.

The total number of agents who left the Border Patrol included those who quit, were forced to retire due to their age or number of years on the job, or who chose to retire as soon as they became eligible.

The article leaves the reader with the impression that far fewer Border Patrol agents are securing our nation’s border than before President Biden took office. Border Patrol sources, not authorized to speak to the media, told Breitbart that the agency ramped up hiring to keep pace with agents who have left the agency in retirement, resignations, firings, or other means of separation. The source told Breitbart that just under 20,000 Border Patrol agents are currently working for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

“At this point, the issue is not the number of agents in the field,” the source told Breitbart. “It is the experience level of the agents left behind after early retirements and other separations.”

The article discusses morale issues that have led to a higher-than-normal retirement rate for Border Patrol agents since October 2020. The article states:

“The administration is so bad for morale,” said a senior Border Patrol official who was not authorized to speak with media and spoke on the condition of anonymity. “I’m not trying to be political. I’m just speaking facts. It’s become so political. Catch and release is demoralizing for agents.”

Matthew Hudak, recently retired second-in-command of Border Patrol, said work for many agents had become comparable to Groundhog Day, arresting illegal immigrants then releasing them into the United States rather than detaining or removing them. Hudak said it was humiliating for the federal law enforcement agents who had taken an oath to protect the country.

Breitbart’s sources confirmed the morale issue. “A far larger than normal number of agents are retiring from Border Patrol at their first opportunity of eligibility,” one source told Breitbart Texas.  “Morale is definitely one of the reasons for the exodus.”

The source explained that agents are retiring at their first opportunity despite the lower retirement pay they will receive.

“Between 2014 and 2020, the number of early retirements averaged 257 per year,” the Examiner reported. “Since 2021, that figure has more than doubled to an average of 529 agents who chose to leave at the first chance they were eligible.”

Agents are blaming the Biden administration for the high number of early retirements. The Examiner states:

Border Patrol agents in rank-and-file and leadership roles across the southern border have told the Washington Examiner on numerous occasions since 2021 that morale was dropping, was at a new low, or gone altogether.

“Under Biden, things are the worst they have ever been by far,” said one agent who is based in Arizona in a previous interview. “Agents are calling in all the time. You always hear, ‘It doesn’t matter,’ or, ‘What’s the point?’ in reference to doing our job. Agents are afraid of ending up on the news for doing their job or getting in trouble for doing their job. There is no morale.”

Breitbart’s sources confirm these sentiments.

Matthew Hudak explained to the Washington Examiner that agents are frustrated over the high numbers of migrants who are apprehended and released along the southwest border. He also expressed concern about the record-shattering numbers of migrants appearing on the terrorist watch list and other criminal databases.

“That’s what’s frustrating for agents is so many people are encountered and then ultimately released because there is just no resources for detention,” Hudak told the news outlet. “The volume exceeds any practical ability for detention, and there’s a lack of any messaging or policy or action of solid deterrence.”

Breitbart Texas contacted U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials, the parent organization for the U.S. Border Patrol. Additional information was promised but was not available before the start of the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol.  Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas, Sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.

Bob Price is the Breitbart Texas-Border team’s associate editor and senior news contributor. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Price is a regular panelist on Fox 26 Houston’s What’s Your Point? Sunday morning talk show. He also serves as president of Blue Wonder Gun Care Products 


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