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Tag: Border

Volunteers to Assemble Appreciation Bags for Border Patrol Agents

The medical team prays with Border Patrol agents. Photo: Facebook/Mercy Works

By Steve Neavling

When a medical team in East Texas traveled to the U.S. and Mexico sides of the border to provide free treatment, they learned about the challenges facing Border Patrol agents. 

When the team of doctors, dentists and nurses returned home, they had a mission: Assemble appreciation bags for 600 agents, The Morning Telegraph reports.

The agents work hard and face dangers, and yet they are underappreciated, said Debbie Lascelles, founder of Mercy Works, a division of Youth With A Mission. 

The bags will be filled with items such as beef jerky, protein bars, sunscreen, socks, gum, gift cards and handwritten notes of appreciation. 

“Many of our Border Patrol agents feel overwhelmed and underappreciated,” Lascelles said. “It’s past time that those of us living in Texas show them we are grateful for the job they’re doing to try and keep us safe and uphold the rule of law.”

DHS Inspector General Declines to Investigate Horse-Mounted Agents

By Steve Neavling

Homeland Security’s inspector general has decided not to investigate horse-mounted Border Patrol agents who were seen in viral images blocking Haitian migrants from entering Del Rio, Texas.

The images provoked public outrage and a pledge by President Biden to swiftly investigate the incident. 

CBP initially referred the investigation to the inspector general’s office, which declined and handed it back to Homeland Security’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), which “immediately commenced investigative work, including its review of videos and photographs and the interview of witnesses employees, and CBP leadership,” Homeland Security said in a statement Tuesday.

“Once completed, the results of the investigation will be provided to CBP management to determine whether disciplinary action is appropriate and, if so, the specific discipline to be imposed,” according to the statement. “At that time, the employees will be afforded due process, including an opportunity to respond, and any corrective actions will comport with applicable laws and regulations. The disciplinary process, which is separate from the fact-finding investigation, is subject to certain timelines established in CBP’s labor-management agreement with the employees’ union of the United States Border Patrol.” 

OPR is tasked with investigating alleged misconduct by CBP employees. As a matter of policy, OPR refers all allegations of serious misconduct to the inspector general’s office. 

“DHS remains committed to conducting a thorough, independent, and objective investigation,” the statement reads. “DHS will share information, as available, consistent with the need to protect the integrity of the investigation and individuals’ privacy.”

Record Number of Fatal Fentanyl Overdoses Come Amid Unprecedented Seizures at Border

Pills laced with fentanyl.

By Steve Neavling

The record number of fentanyl crossing the border is having deadly consequences: Overdose deaths have hit a new high this year. 

“If they’re seizing a lot, it’s because a lot is coming in — because you don’t know the percentage of how much is coming through that they’re actually seizing,” Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, vice dean for public health practice and community engagement at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, told The Washington Examiner.

The problem is the ease of producing and transporting fentanyl compared to other drugs, said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health.

“Only a very small concentration of fentanyl is needed in order to produce a high. So, this makes it much easier to bring fentanyl across the border – in smaller, but more potent, quantities than other drugs,” Volkow wrote in an email.

“Based on the number of drug seizures reported in 2020 for fentanyl, it appears that the illicit drug market did not suffer during the pandemic, but actually expanded,” Volkow said. “Rising fentanyl availability, decreased access to addiction treatment, increased social and economic stressors, and overburdened health departments collided in 2020 and were associated with a tragic rise in overdose deaths.”

CBP confiscated 11,201 pounds of fentanyl between October 2020 and September 2021. To put that into perspective, a single kilogram of fentanyl can kill up to 500,000 people.

Because of its potency, a small amount of fentanyl can go a long way, making it easier to smuggle into the U.S., and it’s very profitable. 

Less than month ago, the DEA announced it had arrested 810 people and seized more than 1.8 million counterfeit pills containing fentanyl as part of an eight-week crackdown on fake, dangerous prescription drugs.

According to the alert, more than 9.5 million counterfeit pills have been seized so far this year, which is more than the last two years combined. 

‘Morale Is in the Toilet:’ Border Patrol Agents Overwhelmed by Surge in Illegal Immigration

By Steve Neavling

Border Patrol agents are becoming exceedingly “downtrodden” as illegal immigration increases and resources remain scant, according to the agency’s union said. 

“Morale is in the toilet,” Jon Anfinsen, the president of the National Border Patrol Council’s Del Rio chapter for the Border Patrol’s union, told The Washington Examiner. “Morale is low because agents aren’t allowed to do their job — if our job is to be out patrolling the border in between the ports of entry and actively searching for people who have crossed illegally, but we’re not allowed to go do that job, it basically creates this defeated feeling in everyone.”

Take a 245-mile stretch of the border surrounding Del Rio, Texas, where there are only 12 agents – the lowest number in Border Patrol’s history, despite a surge in illegal immigration. 

Since agents aren’t allowed to speak with reporters, The Washington Examiner interviewed five current agents and three former senior officials to get a sense of what it’s like to work along the border. 

“Agents are primarily indoors, processing, and we’re dealing with the people who are flagging us down — the ones who are walking up to us and turning themselves in,” Anfinsen said. “Meanwhile, the immigrants who don’t want anything to do with us, they’re running away, although sometimes they’re walking because they have no need to run because we’re not there.”

Illegal immigration has reached its highest level since 2000, and it gets worse by the month. Of the illegal crossings, 60% are in Texas and New Mexico. But in Texas, as many as half of the agents have been removed from the border to process people in custody. Countless numbers of migrants are slipping into the border unnoticed.

“Morale is tanking fast. This can be seen in the simple statements made by agents, but even more importantly, it can be seen in increasing processing times. Agents are just flat tired, and we are seeing and hearing it,” a former senior official at CBP wrote in an email.

U.S. Agents Find ‘Sophisticated’ Tunnel for Drug Trafficking Near Border

Sophisticated tunnel found near the U.S.-Mexico border. Photo: ICE

By Steve Neavling

U.S. agents and Mexican authorities discovered a large, “sophisticated” tunnel near the U.S.-Mexico border that was outfitted with electricity, ventilation, a rail system with a cart and an electronic hoist, ICE announced. 

The 183-foot-long subterranean tunnel was found beneath a house in the city of Mexicali in the Mexican state of Baja California near Calexico, Calif. 

It was used by drug traffickers, who dug the tunnel nearly 22 feet beneath the ground, ICE said. 

“These types of tunnels enable drug traffickers to conduct illicit activities virtually undetected across the U.S.–Mexico border,” Cardell T. Morant, special agent in charge of HSI San Diego, said in a statement. “Discovering and shutting down these tunnels deals a major blow to drug trafficking organizations because it denies them the ability to smuggle drugs, weapons and people across the border.”

Border Patrol Chief: Recent Attacks Targeting Agents Won’t Stop Them from Enforcing the Law

Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz.

Border Patrol Chief Paul Ortiz said his agency won’t be deterred by a spate of attacks targeting agents at the border.

So far this month, agents have been shot at, and one was struck and dragged by a car at a border checkpoint in Texas. 

“U.S. Border Patrol agents continue their unwavering commitment to provide border and national security to the American public despite recent attacks against them along our Southwest border,” Ortiz said in a statement Tuesday. “We take these threats and acts of violence seriously and will do everything we can to identify and bring those to justice who have sought to harm the men and women of the Border Patrol.”

Earlier this month, agents came under fire along the Juárez-El Paso border. An agent was patrolling the border when about five shots rang out from Juárez. He took cover and was not injured. 

Four days earlier, about 20 gunshots were fired at a Border Patrol agent who was patrolling in El Paso’s Lower Valley. The quick-acting agent also took cover and wasn’t injured. 

The FBI is investigating the shootings. The agency didn’t say whether there were other recent shootings.

About a week ago, a 37-year-old man smuggling a migrant in Texas used his car to strike and drag an agent at the Ysleta Station checking in El Paso County. He was arrested and charged. 

Ortiz said Border Patrol agents are well-trained and equipped to respond to attacks. But, he said, the violence is a reminder of the dangers facing agents. 

Ortiz said federal law enforcement will vigorously investigate the attacks and bring the suspects to justice. 

CBP Seized More Fentanyl So Far This Year Than All of 2020

Fentanyl found stuffed inside burritos in April. Photo: CBP.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized more fentanyl in the first few months of 2021 than in all of 2020. 

As of last month, CBP seized nearly 6,500 pounds of fentanyl, ABC News reports.

By comparisonthe federal agency seized 4,776 pounds of fentanyl last year. 

“CBP’s Office of Field Operations has seen a slight increase in narcotic seizures at its southern border ports of entry in fiscal year 2021,” an agency spokesman told ABC News.

“As cross-border travel shifted to essential-travel only, criminal organizations shifted their operations as well. CBP has seen an increase in seizures amongst U.S. citizens and in the commercial environment as both demographics are exempt from the travel restrictions.”

Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to Dr. Darien Sutton, an emergency medicine physician based in Los Angeles and ABC News contributor.

“People don’t realize how dangerous it is,” he said.

Biden Picks Tucson Police Chief Magnus to Head CBP

Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus, picked to lead CBP.

By Steve Neavling

President Biden is nominating Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus to lead U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 

Magnus, who has served as Tucson’s police chief since 2016, is a vocal critic of former President Trump’s immigration policies and a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement. 

If confirmed by the Senate, Magnus has a tough job ahead of him as the nation grapples with a border crisis and the separation of migrant children from their families. 

Magnus also would be the first openly gay CBP commissioner. 

On Monday, Biden announced his pick to lead the DEA – former New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram.