Customs and Border Protection agents have been pulled away from their security duties to care for illegal immigrants in detention centers, according to newly published photos.
The reassignments come even as thousands of migrants continue streaming illegally into the United States and the Biden administration continues to struggle to deal with the influx.
More than 40 photos released by the CBP and published by the Washington Examiner following days of increasing pressure from several media outlets barred from accessing the detention centers show agents performing various jobs including feeding migrants, stocking supply shelves, and other tasks.
“The effort to provide transparency inside the migrant holding facility displayed anew the challenge the border police force has in conducting its mission to keep out criminals and terrorists when the border breaks down,” the outlet reported.
A caption under one of the photos reviewed by the Washington Examiner highlighted the stark contrast between the CBP’s core mission and the menial tasks its agents were reassigned to perform.
“U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control, and protection of our nation’s borders at and between official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws,” it said.
Former DHS and CBP officials said the core mission — border security — fails when agents are pulled away from that duty and told to go assist in detention facilities. Also, they note that when fewer agents are on the border, it is a boon for the cartels.
“What we’ve learned in the past, especially in 2019, is the smugglers will use families and unaccompanied minors as ‘distraction tactics,’” Mark Morgan, former acting CBP director under President Trump, told the Washington Examiner.
“They know as they push them across illegally, USBP agents will respond to provide immediate and effective humanitarian care,” he added. “The response, processing, and care required is extremely time-consuming and resource-intensive, resulting in agents being pulled off the front lines, leaving large sections of the border less secure and unmonitored and making it easy to smuggle drugs, criminal migrants, and single adults across wide, unprotected area.”
During the 2018-2019 migrant crisis, Trump issued a number of executive directives while his administration secured agreements with Mexico and Central American countries to return migrants or hold them south of the border. The policies were widely credited for ending the crisis and led the previous administration to close several detention facilities it no longer needed.
As the current crisis worsened under President Biden, however, those facilities have been reopened and many were quickly filled to capacity and overflowed.
After migrants are processed, many are now being placed in hotels under an $86 million government contract at an average of $392 per person per night, says an analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies.
“In 2019, the Border Patrol had, in certain locations, 40 percent of their agents pulled from their national security mission to provide humanitarian assistance. And now, we’re seeing the exact circumstances created by the Biden administration,” Morgan, now a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, told the news outlet.
And the situation is only going to get worse, as Morgan sees it, despite the fact that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said over the weekend on multiple news programs the “border is closed.”
“The secretary is lying to the American people when he says our borders are secure. With crisis-level numbers of illegal migration being experienced on the borders, more and more resources are being pulled from the front lines resulting in a significant increase of the ‘got aways,’” Morgan said.
“Because of this administration’s dismantling of the effective tools and policies in place, we’re now experiencing the highest levels of got aways in memory — reaching 1,000 per day,” he added.
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