Exodus at DHS: a quarter of border agents plan to resign next year

A survey revealed that, due to the flood of illegal immigrants arriving at the southern border, security personnel feel overworked and unable to fulfill their duties.

One in four Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents intend to resign their positions next year, according to a survey conducted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Short Report Template(AIG-I... by Verónica Silveri

DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari explained the results of the survey to the House Oversight Committee's Subcommittee on Homeland Security, Border and Foreign Affairs and indicated that more than 9,300 CBP and ICE agents interviewed and submitted their responses.

The results of the survey showed that agents face daily problems in carrying out their work. Among them: "increased workload, irregular border policies, being assigned tasks unrelated to law enforcement, lack of adequate resources, and working excessive overtime." According to the report:

Surges of illegal border crossers are stretching agents to their limits, forcing U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to depend on temporary details and overtime to address increased personnel needs. These practices are not sustainable in the long term. We determined that CBP’s and ICE’s current method of managing law enforcement staffing is not effective. CBP and ICE workloads have grown significantly due to factors beyond DHS’ control, namely increasing border encounters and travel volume.

The border crisis: lack of adequate resources

The majority of CBP (72%) and ICE (61%) members stated that their police stations are not properly equipped to do their jobs. Cuffari told the committee that many of them do not have the necessary scanning technology to be able to track illegal migrants and added that officers are forced to use inadequate resources to conduct their searches.

The situation has caused the number of escapees to quadruple to 605,115 in fiscal year 2022 from 2019, when about 150,000 were reported.

On the other hand, overall encounters with undocumented persons at the border increased 143% last year, reaching 2.4 million, compared to 2019 when 978,000 were recorded. Cuffari said that agents constantly feel "frustration" due to the heavy workload they face:

They express frustration, I must say that the Border Patrol and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents do a great job every single day of the year and they’re just frustrated.

Excessive hours, understaffing and additional duties

The report revealed that Southwest border agents covered about 5.1 million hours of overtime. This increase represented a cost of $403 million in federal funds for overtime payments to staff.

In addition, Cuffari indicated that the agents perform work in this extra time that is not always part of their duties. This situation leaves many of them feeling demoralized because "they must spend hours doing administrative work, helping manage migrant processing centers, and feeling pressured to process illegal migrants quickly instead of securing the border as they were trained to do."

Interviews and survey responses indicate that the details and overtime have negatively impacted the health and morale of law enforcement personnel.

"Staffing shortages exacerbated by the Biden Border Crisis are creating dangerous conditions along the southwest border," the report says. Cuffari agreed with the representatives' opinion and testified that the lack of officers "impact[s] efforts to combat human trafficking, drug smuggling, and other illicit activities":

 Despite greater workloads, staffing levels have remined the same, with CBP and ICE using details and overtime to temporarily surge staffing along the Southwest border.

Among the solutions proposed in the report is to increase staffing levels to catch up with the increased workload.

The Biden administration's failed policies

Meanwhile, the Biden administration continues to neglect the border crisis. A few months ago, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas acknowledged before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee that "the immigration system is completely broken," though he denied that it was due to his policies.

Mayorkas asserted that he is not to blame for the immigration crisis and claimed that it is a structural problem that must be corrected by lawmakers in Congress:

You are incorrectly attributing it to our policies. Our asylum system is broken, our entire immigration system is broken, and in desperate need of reform — and it’s been so for years and years.

However, the figures show the opposite. As of August 2022, nearly 5,000,000 immigrants had entered the country illegally since Biden began his term in office. This was reported by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).