President Trump has asked Congress for 15,000 more Border Patrol agents. As of last year, there were 17,000 agents on the southern border. With illegal border crossings down sharply, critics ask whether more agents are necessary.
The Department of Homeland Security’s announcement that its border enforcement strategy had resulted in a sharp decline in illegal crossings has renewed questions about why the Trump administration wants even more agents on the southwest border, the Texas Tribune reports. Border Patrol agents made 310,531 apprehensions of people trying to cross into the U.S. illegally during the year that ended Sept. 30. Customs and Border Protection officers recorded 216,370 “inadmissible” cases, defined as a person who tries to enter the U.S. at a port of entry but is rejected, or a person seeking humanitarian protection. Combined, the numbers represent a 24 percent drop from 2016.
That has Democrats and immigrant rights groups asking whether or not President Trump’s order to hire thousands of more agents should be reconsidered. “These numbers show that Border Patrol agents are stopping, on average, one or two people per month along the U.S.-Mexico border,” said Adam Isacson of the Washington Office on Latin America, a research and human rights watchdog organization. “Where’s the urgent need to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on further expanding this agency?” Through 2016, the Border Patrol had 17,000 agents on the southern border, compared with 15,440 in 2008. Trump has asked for 15,000 more agents. As of May, not one of the Border Patrol sectors in Texas had staffing levels up to par with what its headquarters authorized, according to a Government Accountability Office report. The state of Texas has recently allotted another $800 million for state-based border enforcement, despite Trump’s promise to make border security a federal priority.