In this Dispatch…
- Overall state of effectiveness at US Border Patrol
- Trends in USBP’s interdiction of illegal border crossers
- What’s in store for the future of USBP under new leadership
- And more…
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Effects of New Leadership at US Border Patrol
Source Description: US Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs, 30 November 2016
(Admin Note: FO‘s Dispatch reports are synopses of Congressional hearings. We track the schedules of Congressional committees and sub-committees, take notes on the proceedings, and then produce a report on relevant points and issues.)
The US Border Patrol (USBP) is a mess. Despite having the largest budget ever, USBP is not fulfilling its responsibilities to ensure national security, instead having taken on a humanitarian role under the Obama administration. It’s not certain whether or not USBP officials have adopted a policy of taking in illegal immigrants or it’s a policy dictated by the Obama administration; however, 100% of unaccompanied minors are being re-settled throughout the US and the number of detainments of illegal border crossers are at historic lows. The USBP is currently undergoing a capabilities gap study to identify areas of improvement, and is expected to make national security the top priority under new leadership at the Department of Homeland Security.
Current Trends in Border Security & Border Patrol
Immigration of unaccompanied minors is not relenting. Starting in 2012, USBP officers began seeing a large influx of children who were attempting to illegally cross. Although Border Patrol officials keep track of the number of detainments, there is no accurate estimate for how many children are not being captured and 100% of unaccompanied children are being released in the US. Capture and disbursement (catch and release in the country) is the major contributor to the high numbers of detainments. The chart below reflects the latest official figures from Border Patrol, published in January 2016 (latest numbers are a year old). US Border Patrol officials said, however, that detainments of minors in 2016 is currently at 2014 levels. Both minors and adults frequently approach USBP to turn themselves in because they will be re-located in the US.
US Border Patrol is as big, expensive, and useless as ever. In 1995, USBP had just 5,000 agents. Today, it includes 21,000 agents (and 45,000 employees overall) but the number of detainments along the border has been at historic lows, despite a $32 million budget. Despite having more manpower and equipment, the USBP is achieving less, and was ranked in 2016 as one of the worst places to work in the federal government. Under the Obama Administration, the USBP has taken on a humanitarian role instead of a law enforcement and security role. And current director Mark Morgan admits that Border Patrol has a humanitarian role. “If you get to the US border we are going to let you in,” he said during his Congressional testimony.
USBP to undergo reforms and expansion. The USBP is currently engaged in a capabilities gap study that will allow better allocation of resources. Throughout the hearing, officials from the USBP admitted that they do not have enough officers, but specifically said that they had shortfalls in intelligence analysts. The USBP’s deputy chief stated that they had some capacity to collect intelligence information, but not enough analysts to process and analyze it. Under the Trump administration, USBP is expected to hire more officers.
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