Love thy neighbor as thy self?
The Border Patrol’s 16-year revision indicates a history that was primed for the abuse we see of migrants on the border, now. One can start at the point of the agency’s creation amid post 9/11 reorganization of the Department of Homeland Security.
From the reorganization period 16-years ago and under three administrations both Congress and the White House have demonstrated a total lack of leadership. The Border Patrol, itself, has been plagued by poor leadership and management at all levels, and by inept recruiting that have left the organization with subpar, overstressed workforce and a long-running toxic culture with little oversight.
Most BP agents serving today signed up for a tough job in a quasi-military agency protecting the country against terrorists and drug dealers. What happened was just another example of government throwing nothing but money at a problem to doctor a politically created fear of foreign agents creeping across our southern border. To date, there is no record of that happening since 9/11. But just to make sure, in 2001 the number of BP agents increased from 9,200 to 21,000 agents in the first Obama term. The rate of growth completely outstripped the BP’s system to manage its employees. The view of a majority of Congress was “We are going to field a small army and make up for decades of neglect by previous administrations.”
Thus, the BP recruited that army by lowering the hiring standards --- already the lowest among top federal law enforcement agencies. It shoveled agents through the academy and into the field before even completing background checks. Agents called it, “No trainee left behind.” Management structures and disciplinary processes failed, as oversight lessened. Agent misconduct and criminality have constantly been on the rise. Lax hiring standards and background checks have been a continuing problem. Internal and external crime by agents have been more than an embarrassment.
In Obama’s first year, the Bp’s misconduct and disciplinary infractions or poor performance outstripped all other federal law enforcement. The CATO institute found “it virtually impossible to asses the extent of corruption or misconduct in U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Protection… because most publicly available information is incomplete or inconsistent.”
The photo last month of a drowned migrant father and daughter in the Rio Grande drew global attention to the human role of the migrant surge, but to agents along the border, such drama is a near-daily occurrence. While new leadership at the BP top may help clean up the internal crime and racism, there is much yet to be done to ease the Rambo mentality. The agency is and has been a highly armed, marine designed helicopter backed, night-vision army. In fact, today, the BP agency’s CBP’s most elite unit is equivalent of the SEAL’s or Delta Force, trained to fight and kill, not capture and retain unarmed men, women, and children fleeing from terror. The BP is trained to fight, but over the last five years, their main role has been a humanitarian relief organization, without sufficient detention centers, sufficient Immigration Courts to legally process detainees, or sufficient food and humanitarian supplies, as well as medical to cover the influx. The agents who signed up to work outdoors, chasing smugglers through the brush and desert, instead spend long shifts sitting on stools processing paperwork, providing the medical care that they can or watching over children and families amid squalid conditions.
For the billions we spent on mismanagement and building a Rambo army along the Rio Grande to chase poor, afraid migrants trying to find a safer place than their home country, we could have built safe, clean detention centers with basic medical provision for a lot less. Yes, we have an immigration law problem. It needs to be fixed, and we need to task force with our European friends who are having the same problem of being over-run by immigrants, except their problem is from Africa. Why years after it became apparent that unarmed migrants were the biggest challenge facing CBP and the southern border nothing was done? Why did it take a father and daughter drowning, an almost daily occurrence, in the Rio Grande before Congress would begin providing CBP with the resources to meet its critical needs? Why did the press take so long to bring to the American public what was really going on the southern border? Why hasn’t CBP done more to transform itself on the southern border --- to retrain officers and agents, to rebuild and expand facilities, to reform supply chains, to expand medical capabilities?
Love thy neighbor as thy self?
Please read: Politico’s “The Border Patrol Hits its Breaking Point” by Garrett M. Graff
Also read Undocumented: Immigration and the Militarization of the United States-Mexico Border. By John Moore. Powerhouse Books, Brooklyn NY, 2018
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