Illegal immigration is up across the U.S. Mexico border as President Trump and politicos in D.C. debate and cut deals DACA and the border wall. According to the Washington Times, “illegal immigration in the southwest doubled over the past four months.”
The Times reported that more than 30,000 illegal immigrants were nabbed in August. Apprehensions were up 22 percent as compared to July and nearly 100 percent compared to April.
However, the numbers and the news reports don’t tell the whole story.
|LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW HERE|
Art Del Cueto, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, says the numbers represent a far more complex situation. In an interview on the James T. Harris show, Del Cueto say he believes the news reports stem from an effort to and an effort to deny President Trump the credit he deserves for lowering illegal immigration.
The “spike is now a big deal”
“This is an obvious showing of the media not giving Trump his due,” said Del Cueto referring to the Times’ article. “Have the numbers been going up, most certainly. The union has been complaining about these numbers for a long time and no one seemed to care. Now Trump takes office and the numbers are astronomically lower and then when they spike now it is a big deal.”
“The reality is though that the number is 41 percent lower than August” of last year, explained Del Cueto. “They are 24 percent lower than 2016 overall. Now is the time for Congress to act. We need is true legislation that does three things. One, it builds strategic barriers in key locations. Two – and this is the most important one of all of them – keeping experienced agents that are leaving for other law enforcement agencies. Obviously funding for equipment and communications and stuff like that. But it is an obvious showing by the media to say that Trump is failing.”
The timing of the news reports strike Del Cueto as questionable as well. “The numbers are up, we can’t lie about that. But the reality is that they are still 41percent lower than they were in August,” of 2016. “These media guys are pushing it now; they didn’t seem to care how high they were during the Obama administration.”
“We’ve been talking about it for years during the Obama administration,” explained Del Cueto. “It is just like talking about deportation numbers and saying Obama deported everybody. Well, under other administrations, voluntary returns were not deportations. All of a sudden when he took over he counted deportations as voluntary returns and saying he deported more than the last guy. You really aren’t, you are just messing with the numbers to make it look more.”
A wall won’t replace good agents
When asked why Republicans are “dragging their feet on issues like border security,” Del Cueto essentially said old habits die hard. “I think there are still several hold overs and their muscle memory tells them to do things in a certain way and they can’t accept that we need to do things differently.”
During the Bush and Obama administrations, border security was not a priority and neither were the agents. “The way agents get compensated has remained the way it has been forever and I think that is the reason why we are using so many agents,” said Del Cueto. “It is scary. The reality is that we are losing twice as many agents as we get every month. That is not good. Even when they hire new agents, the bottom line is you can hire a ton more but you need to retain the agents that are here right now because these are the guys you have invested money in and they already have the experience. That has been my big push that I’ve continuously said that we need to retain agents that are already here.”
According to the National Border Patrol Council, “The U.S. Border Patrol is already more than 1,700 Agents below the congressionally mandated floor of 21,370 agents and the lack of manpower is already negatively impacting Border Patrol operations.”
Between inadequate compensation and the conditions agents face, it is difficult to retain agents. “I don’t want to talk bad about where agents are stationed but you have some locations like Ajo, Arizona. You get this young kid from the Midwest, newlywed sometimes, and you put him at Ajo, Arizona. There is really nothing for him to do within hours and hours of a drive so it is difficult for him to stay there.”
According to Del Cueto, remote locations and poor pay are the least of a Border Patrol agent’s worries. “The reality is that the Border Patrol agent is the most assaulted agent in the entire system and the least paid. They are going to more isolated locations than anyone else. You have to have equity pay. You have to have risk versus reward. Our big argument is that if they have the toughest job, they get assaulted more than any agent in the federal system they need to be appropriately compensated for that.”
“I think help is on the way,” said Del Cueto. “For the first time ever the National Border Patrol Council has had meetings with President Trump. That has never happened before.”
As president of the Tucson chapter of the National Border Patrol Council, Del Cueto endorsed Trump. “When he won the presidency I was happy that I was there and I spoke immediately to him after he won. That has never happened to the Border Patrol union. We have a great relationship with President Trump. I am a pessimist at heart but I think that things are going to get better for Border Patrol agents and I think it is long overdue. It is a very rough job, and I think that agents are going to get properly compensated during this administration. I am very excited about it. Agents are going to get what they finally deserve and their just reward.”