The Rio Grande Valley Sector of the United State Border Patrol is currently experiencing record high numbers of unaccompanied juveniles and Other Than Mexicans (OTMs). These apprehensions are straining a border enforcement system due to the additional regulations, laws, and court decisions that apply to apprehended juveniles and OTMs.
Nearly half of all Border Patrol agents assigned to the Rio Grande Valley are working at duties that would not be considered to be law enforcement. These duties include feeding, clothing, and watching after children. These duties are slowly being taken over by FEMA and other governmental groups, but still leave a small group of agents protecting our borders. The cartels know this and have been actively exploiting the situation. Cartels are forcing juveniles and illegal aliens to cross the border in between the ports of entries because it further ties up Border Patrol agents in the field. In effect, cartels are using these immigrants as a human shield to divert resources that would otherwise be spent interrupting their trafficking operations. Once the agents are taken out of the equation, the cartels are smuggling drugs, weapons, and special interest aliens across the border unfettered. At a time when agents are most needed to deal with the cartel threat, they are unavailable because they are either dealing with a tidal wave of humanity by either arresting juveniles and families in the field or by processing them in the stations.
Border Patrol agents have been dealing with a very difficult situation in exemplary fashion. The humanity and compassion shown to these children and families is unrivaled. Agents are not abusing them, mocking them, or neglecting them, contrary to what many special interest groups are saying. In fact, many Border Patrol agents have helped care for these aliens even at personal expense. These dedicated public servants have gone above and beyond the call of duty to care for these individuals while ensuring the laws of the United States are enforced.
This situation, which started due to violence and dire economic conditions in Central America, has now exploded due to the message being relayed that the immigration laws of the United States are not being enforced. Interviews with detainees reflect this and this situation will continue if there are not consequences for breaking the immigration laws of the United States. We cannot continue to release detainees, even with the goal of deporting them in the future, if we hope to stop the flow of illegal aliens through the Rio Grande Valley. Mandatory detention and deportation is the only consequence that will resolve the problem.
This situation could occur in any of our Border Patrol sectors. The Border Patrol is always a step behind the cartels and reacting to their actions. We need all of our agents in the field to provide an effective defense, not tied up doing non-law enforcement functions. To add insult to injury, the hours agents are working are being controlled, thus not allowing for 100% staffing. Customs and Border Protection needs to do everything in its power to solve this problem, starting with full staffing.