Border Patrol warn of ‘all-time low’ morale as migrant numbers surge, Title 42 end looms
Morale among Border Patrol agents is at an “all-time low” as they face massive, unprecedented border numbers as well as a looming end to the Title 42 public health order, which is expected to further fuel the overwhelming surge.
“The agents are upset. I’ve never seen agents so upset as I have under what is currently going on,” Brandon Judd, head of the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) told Fox News Digital in an interview.
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“Extremely low,” one agent said when asked about morale. “We are being mandated to work six days a week every other week and have been for the past few months. It is causing a strain physically as well as emotionally. Personally I am exhausted. I can deal with the work as it is but a 60-hour work week every other week is taking a toll.”
There were more than 220,000 migrant encounters in March, higher than any number seen during the Biden administration so far, and the highest in decades. It’s a number that is well above capacity for agents to handle, who have been overwhelmed for over a year.
Currently, the majority of migrants are quickly turned back until the Title 42 public health order, but the Biden administration has said that order will end in May — even as its own officials warn that it is expecting up to 18,000 migrants a day in the summer months. It has sparked backlash from Democrats and Republicans, who have called on the Biden administration to delay the move.
A U.S. Border Patrol agent stands on a cliff looking for migrants that crossed the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico near the city of Sasabe, Arizona, on Jan. 23 2022.
(Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Border Patrol morale has been low since the crisis began, with multiple agents having told Fox News over the last year about their dissatisfaction with being pulled off their duties to go take care of migrants and process them at facilities, so they can be released into the interior.
However, now with the numbers increasing, and the corresponding health risks that come with the end of Title 42, Judd said it’s getting worse.
“When you look at, first, how many agents are being pulled out of the field to do administrative duties, that’s one thing that’s really upsetting the agents, and then on top of that knowing that we’re going to have to face the health risk that we’ll be put under, having to hold people for a much longer period of time than we have in the past — yeah that’s putting an immense amount of stress and pressure on the agents and morale continues to go down,” he said.
One agent said from their conversations with other agents that “morale is still at an all-time low, for Border Patrol especially.” The agent said it was less because of a fear of contracting COVID and pointed instead to a “lack of leadership and spine” from Border Patrol leadership.
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Immigrant men from many countries are taken into custody by U.S. Border Patrol agents at the U.S.-Mexico border on Dec. 7, 2021 in Yuma, Arizona.
(John Moore/Getty Images)
“They continue to happily support the reckless disregard for our established immigration laws and process,” the agent said. “The numbers will continue to grow and the only thing BP Command staff is worried about is getting the aliens released as quick as possible. They are effectively opening both borders by demanding more agents sit behind a computer and process, that will get worse with more aliens invading and open our country up to more dangerous people.”
The agent commented on Fox News’ reporting that at least 23 individuals were encountered by Border Patrol in 2021 at the southern border who were on the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB) — 42 have been encountered since Biden took office. The agent said they believe it is “a miniscule number of those that actually enter.”
“We cannot track those that want to evade us when we are babysitting the quitters and give ups,” the agent said.
Another agent concurred: “I have no doubt there are more. Over half of shifts are processing and we are only able to field two to three agents to cover 50 miles of border. There is no telling what is getting through,” the agent said.
Judd said that they had seen significant attrition among staff as well, and that fewer people are applying now to take up the uniform than in the last six or seven years — meaning the image of the agency is being affected too.
“When you look, we hired 200 less agents than what left the Patrol for retirement or resigned, so we weren’t able to keep up with attrition last year with hiring,” he said.
He blamed Democrats in Washington D.C., including President Biden, noting specifically Biden’s repetition of false claims that agents whipped Haitian migrants in Del Rio last year. He said agents also feel a great deal of pressure when they know they are overwhelmed and allowed migrants to get past them.
“When you know that you’re just not doing a very good job because you’re not being given the resources or ability to do what you know will protect the American public, the morale just tanks. It tanks.”
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The Department of Homeland Security has acknowledged low morale among agents. DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has witnessed or been part of a number of tense exchanges with agents. In one exchange in Yuma, an agent turned his back on Mayorkas after accusing him of not allowing agents to do their jobs, while another said that Yuma was better under President Trump as “everyone was doing their jobs.”
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing to discuss security threats in Washington, D.C., Sept. 21, 2021.
(Greg Nash/Pool via REUTERS)
“I know the policies of this administration are not particularly popular with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, but that’s the reality, and let’s see what we can do within that framework,” Mayorkas said at the time.
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Recently, in a memo to Border Patrol agents, he touted a pay rise and additional hirings secured as part of the president’s budget request.
“I know the budgets alone cannot adequately address all that you need to perform your work. Please know I recognize how challenging your work is and I will continue to fight for you,” he said.
Judd said that the best way to solve morale was to secure the border and allow agents to do their jobs — but doubts the administration will do that.
“I don’t think this administration cares,” he said. “They know that their base does not like the mission that Border Patrol does, they know that. They know that their base is for open borders and law enforcement does not meet their paradigm of what the border should look like, so yeah I just don’t think this administration cares.”