“Helpless, Hapless U.S. Border Patrol”


The U.S. Border Patrol has been ordered to shut down its highway checkpoint system away from the border. It says it can’t staff it and the border, swamped as it is by Central American asylum seekers.

The Border Patrol has exploded from 4,000 in 1990 to almost 20,000 today. That’s agents, not total employment. President George W. Bush and Congress doubled the size of the Patrol from 9,821 (2001) to 20,119 when he left the Whiute House in 2009.

The Border Patrol is part of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) of the Department of Homeland Security. Total employment of the CBP is 43,000 officers and agents of which 19,000 are Border Patrol Agents.

President Donald J. Trump has ordered 5,000 new Border Patrol Agents and 10,000 more immigration enforcement officers. Unfortunately several factors make that order almost impossible to fill. It currently takes 282 days to hire ONE new agent. That looks bad but in comparison to 2013 when it took 420 days, the process is taking less time by half.

In addition to 19,000+plus Border Patrol agents, President Trump has ordered over 5,000 U.S. military troops to the border to help the Border Patrol. These troops are unable to help the Border Patrol in any law enforcement, including carrying live ammunition.

Federal law — the Posse Comitatus law — prohibits military enforcement of civilian laws; immigration enforcement is civilian per the Constitution.

Aside: Marine Corps Commandant says the troop assignment of Marines to the Border presents a “risk” to national security, not a plus.

Notwithstanding the inability to not hire new agents and the fact that federal law prohibits the military from enforcing immigration laws, as well as the U.S. Marine general suggesting the United States is at “risk” with the use of Marines on the border, why can’t the Border Patrol do its job?

With apprehensions at almost a forty-year-low at roughly 20-25 percent of the peak illegal immigration apprehensions of 2000 and four or five more times the number of agents in 1990, just what are these army division-sized agents doing?

To be clear, the people flowing across the border in recent months are different than in previous years. The flow used to be Mexican men 16-40 years of age with a 6th grade education. They came for mostly work in agriculture. They used to go home when crop harvests finished. Some stayed; some brought their families.

Concurrently, the Border Patrol was given more technology to work with and some hundreds of miles of fencing that cut illegal border crossings in critical areas like San Diego, El Paso and some of the Lower Rio Grande Valley. The fencing stopped crossings in the traditional border crossings; mostly male border crossings redirected into California, Arizona and New Mexico mountains and deserts. Now, the focus is on the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

Another critical factor in the lessening of illegal border crossings after the year 2000 is that Mexican men found work in Mexico. The global automobile industry found a new home in Mexico. General Motors, Ford and Chryusler have been in Mexico since the 1920s. Nissan, other Japanese car builders and Volkswagen started moving into Mexico in the early 1960s.

Lots of new Mexican jobs in manufacturing cut the Mexican surplus labor supply. Better education helped cut more.

The 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) blossomed into the best trade agreement in the world. The United States, Canada and Mexico formed the greatest energy colossus in the world even before fracking and shale oil development. NAFTA created a trading partnership that is larger than dreamed of between the three countries. It is a trillion dollars annually right now. That trade employs millions of people in the United States, alone.

Fewer Mexicans coming to the U.S. illegally while Central American women and children are flooding the border presenting themselves to those border agents voluntarily to ask for asylum.

The Border Patrol says it can’t do its job; too many women and children to deal with. Reminds one of a Marine Corps “dicho,” saying:

“When in trouble, when in doubt; run in circles, scream and shout.”