Border Patrol Union President Weighs In on Morale, Border Security Policies

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
February 9, 2023US News
Border Patrol Union President Weighs In on Morale, Border Security Policies
Hundreds of illegal immigrants line up to be processed by U.S. Border Patrol under the Stanton Street Bridge after illegally entering the United States, in El Paso, Texas, on Dec. 22, 2022. (Allison Dinner/AFP via Getty Images)

Jon Anfinsen, the president of the Del Rio chapter of the National Border Patrol Union, said Border Patrol agents are struggling with low morale as they have come to terms with a new normal of attempting to stop tens of thousands of border crossings each month.

“Morale is just, it’s just kind of nonexistent,” Anfinsen told NTD News. “And it’s been that way for a while. The past couple years have been rough.”

In his sector, Anfinsen said a busy week four or five years ago would have consisted of intercepting about 1,000 people attempting to cross the border.

“Then we jumped up to do weeks where we had 12–13,000 in a week and then now we’re down to about like four to 5,000 in a week [in Del Rio],” he said. “So we’re still incredibly busy.”

Anfinsen said part of the difficulty with maintaining morale is the feeling that “we were trained to do a job, and we’re not allowed to do it.” Anfinsen said Border Patrol agents are increasingly having to deal with asylum claims at the border, when those claims should instead be handled by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Anfinsen said enabling Border Patrol agents to more exclusively focus on monitoring border crossings would be the top solution to boost morale, followed by improved recruiting and retention efforts and increased salary.

Border Crossings Slowing Somewhat

Anfinsen said there had been a decrease in border-crossing attempts in recent months, but that crossing attempts were still much higher compared to where they were in 2019 and 2020 under President Donald Trump. Anfinsen said Border Patrol agents recorded about 6,000 to 7,000 crossing attempts per week in 2019 and 2020. He said throughout most of 2022, crossings had risen as high as 50,000 a week in recent months but have fallen somewhat since November 2022, and agents are now recording about 30,000 crossings per week.

“So 30 now, I guess is still terrible, but it’s at least we’re just happy it’s not 50 at the moment,” he said.

In January, President Joe Biden announced a parole program for people from Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Haiti that allows them to enter the United States with the support of a lawful sponsor residing within the country. Biden said a pilot version of this program for Venezuela had reduced average daily border crossing attempts by people from that country from about 1,100 to about 250.

“It’s made a difference, a little bit of. Some of them are now going towards the ports of entry, which is officially where people are supposed to request asylum,” Anfinsen said.

Still, the Border Patrol union official said the parole program doesn’t fix the broader asylum program problems, “where people are allowed just to come in and essentially clog up the system with claims that ultimately aren’t going to work for them.” He said the large influx of new asylum claims is “basically preventing people with real asylum claims from having a timely chance to claim asylum.”

In addition to expanding the asylum parole program, the Biden administration launched its CBP One app, which allows asylum seekers to submit their asylum applications to enter the United States without crossing the border illegally. Anfinsen said with the rollout of the app, customs agents have been able to take a more active role in processing asylum applications, freeing Border Patrol agents to monitor border crossings.

Border Policies

Anfinsen credited the Trump-era Migrant Protection Protocols, dubbed the “Remain in Mexico Policy” with sharply decreasing border-crossing attempts.

“There were plenty of debates about whether that was appropriate or ethical or whatever, but what you can’t argue with is that it worked, it produced results,” Anfinsen said of the Trump-era policies. “We went from having tens of thousands of people cross the border, and it turned off almost just like flipping a light switch. It’s effective.”

Anfinsen said Biden administration policies like the parole program and the CBP One app have had a similar impact on reducing border crossings, “Except people in those categories then go to the port of entry to request asylum and then get released. So it doesn’t actually do anything to change the number of people who actually want to cross the border.”

Republican lawmakers have supported new border wall construction and called for keeping policies in place that allow border officials to turn back more people attempting to enter the country, such as the Title 42 policy.

Biden and other Democrats have called for creating a pathway to citizenship for people who entered or remain in the country illegally and to provide funding for more personnel to process asylum cases.

“Congressional Republicans have refused to consider my comprehensive plan,” Biden said in January. “And they rejected my recent request for an additional $3.5 billion to secure the border and funds for 2,000 new asylum personnel—asylum officers and personnel, and 100 new immigration judges—so people don’t have to wait years to get their claims adjudicated, which they have a right to make a claim legally.”

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.