By Jim Kouri
President Barack Obama and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano applauded the latest U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) report that claims an increase in illegal drug seizures and a decrease in illegal border-crossers in fiscal year 2011. CPB claims in a press statement that these results are due to one of the largest increased in manpower and resources along the country’s borders.
However, members of the Border Patrol agents’ union — the National Border Patrol Council — say the report is misleading and that the increase in drug seizures actually means the Mexican cartels are more active and smuggling more drugs into the U.S.
Apprehensions along U.S. borders were down more than 50 percent — to about 350,000 — since 2008. More than 87,000 of those apprehended had criminal histories. The decrease is due to a more secure border, which results in less people attempting to cross into the U.S. illegally, the CBP said in its report.
Drug seizures jumped by 20 percent — to 5 million pounds of narcotics — since the last fiscal year, with the CBP confiscating $126 million in undeclared currency.
Over the past fiscal year, CBP has added 886 Border Patrol agents to its 21,444-strong force, with a bulk of them deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border in an effort to stymie illegal drug, weapon, money and human smuggling.
The largest federal law enforcement agency in the country is now the Border Patrol. It doubled in size in just five years. But some agents are asking whether the rush for higher numbers means lower standards.
“It’s not just about numbers. The Border Patrol agents must be allowed to perform their duties unencumbered by politics and politicians, especially those seeking Latino votes,” said political strategist and attorney Mike Baker.
In addition to manpower, CBP lauded technological advances along the border, such as “mobile surveillance units, thermal imaging systems, and…non-intrusive inspection equipment.”
However, absent from the CBP’s report is any mention of a border fence. The project was suspended after more than a billion dollars was spent on a so-called “virtual fence” that failed to operate properly.
Some border agents believe that experienced agents have left the ranks and are being replaced by young rookies who become veterans after only a few years.
The NBPC points to Agent Jacob Nunez who joined the Border Patrol nearly four years ago. He’s more experienced than most agents now on the job. “The average time in with the patrol is three years right now,” he said. Many were hired during the massive buildup of the Border Patrol during the last five years.
Union officials point to further evidence that Border Patrol field operations have been hijacked by politically correct bureaucrats and politicians in Washington, DC.
“During mandatory Cultural and Environmental Awareness training that all Border Patrol agents must take, we learn that illegal aliens are now referred to as “cross-border violators”. We further learn that we should carry lots of garbage bags and assist the “cross-border violators” in hauling out their trash and disposing of it properly,” officials stated on the NBPC blog.
“We are glad to know that the huge army of Border Patrol staff officer bureaucrats in D.C. are busy finding new ways to try to lobotomize rank-and-file agents so they can be transformed into politically correct robots who are afraid to make a decision or aggressively enforce the laws of this country. After all, too many arrests of “cross-border violators” would not look good for another massive amnesty program,” according to NBPC officials.
CBP is forcing agents to endure an ever-increasing number of online training courses. Agents now spend many hours every year scrolling through mandatory courses that often have little to do with their jobs.
Consider the CBP Environmental and Cultural Awareness training course: This feel-good course is very time consuming. Agents in southern Arizona are forced to learn about animals and terrain in parts of the country they will never encounter on the job.
“The online learning programs are so full of glitches that agents often must scroll through the entire course multiple times, clicking on every meaningless “link” in the program and waiting for the links to load, just to get “credit” for having taken it. Supervisors are pressured to make sure every agent takes the courses. Thousands of man hours are wasted on these courses. They keep coming at a feverish pace, with no letup in sight. This is classic government CYA,” said union officials.