As President of the National Border Patrol Council, the union that represents over 16,500 Border Patrol Agents, I take issue with the editorial published April 5th in reaction to the union’s endorsement of Donald Trump.
As someone who has been involved in border protection for over 18 years, I can tell you the border is not secure and the situation is getting worse. Apprehensions are only one factor that needs to be considered. The fact that the editorial board chose to cherry pick one statistic is not only inaccurate – it is bad journalism.
Let me explain. When I started in the Border Patrol we were apprehending well over 1 million illegal immigrants a year. Almost all of the illegal immigrants were from Mexico and were simply looking for employment in the United States. Although violence did occur, it was the exception not the rule.
That has all changed with the emergence of the Mexican drug cartels. In Mexico, over 150,000 people have been killed in cartel related violence. They have killed police officers, judges, elected officials, and ordinary civilians who have crossed their path with impunity. These same drug cartels responsible for all the violence in Mexico control both the narcotics and illegal immigrant smuggling along our border.
To the cartels, illegal immigrants are simply another product. Currently illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central Americas are paying the drug cartels $10,000 each to be smuggled across the border. Higher value illegal immigrants from the Middle East pay double this figure. The drug cartels are making hundreds of millions of dollars a year from illegal immigrant smuggling and the profit helps to underwrite an operation that is responsible for the drugs on our streets.
The cartel related violence was once confined to Mexico but that is no longer the case. Border Patrol Agents in Arizona have encountered cartel members with automatic weapons more than 50 miles north of the border. Last year a CBP helicopter was shot down in Laredo, Texas by cartel gunmen. These are two things that would have been unimaginable when I started my career with the Border Patrol.
Although apprehensions are down, the type of individual we are apprehending today is entirely different. Approximately 20 percent of the illegal immigrants that we apprehend are criminal aliens. Criminal aliens are illegal immigrants who have been convicted of a felony and have been deported to their home country. We have deported, in many cases multiple times, yet they are right back on our doorstep. This is not hyperbole or scaremongering as you assert in your editorial – it is a fact.
Our union endorsed Donald Trump because he is the only candidate, Democratic or Republican, who is speaking to what is actually going on at the border. He was the only candidate in fact that reached out to seek our endorsement.
Do we agree with every statement Mr. Trump he has made in this campaign – no. Do we like the tenor of this entire campaign – no. But Mr. Trump he has offered to listen about how we can improve border security and that is something that no other candidate in this race has done.