Donald Trump has demanded money to hire thousands more border agents, when in reality Customs and Border Protection (CBP) can’t yet fill existing openings. “Even as Congress provides funding to hire 21,370 agents,” Politico reports, “the patrol is more than 1,800 agents short of that mark.”
Trump’s mass-deportation force shouldn’t be expanded, yet last year the Republican-led House passed legislation easing hiring standards in order to do just that, public safety be damned. The fact is that horrific incidents involving border agents in just the span of one year show that a security priority shouldn’t be ramping up the number of agents, but instead implementing oversight over unchecked agents already in the job.
Last year, two Texas Border Patrol agents were charged with killing a number of people, including a child. Ronald Anthony Burgos-Aviles was accused of killing his girlfriend and their 1-year-old. In September, Juan David Ortiz was charged with killing four women. Ortiz used his position to target the women, who had been or at the time were sex workers, because he thought “no one would care for them.”
“Both agents were hired nearly a decade ago amidst a surge in staffing that backfired on CBP in many ways, resulting in Congress passing an act to improve hiring practices,” Josh Breisblatt of the American Immigration Council reported. Then there are the agents that have so far not faced any repercussions for their actions, because, for example, we still don’t even know the name of the agent who shot and killed Claudia Patricia Gómez González, an unarmed indigenous woman from Guatemala, in May.
Instead of ramping up the mass-deportation force, Congress needs to make sure the senseless deaths of Jakelin Ameí Rosmery Caal Maquin and Felipe Gomez Alonzo, two migrant children who died in CBP custody last December, are never repeated. Congressional Democrats who visited the border facility where 8-year-old Felipe was held before his death said the agency “still has a long way to go in making sure that migrants are treated humanely.” This agency needs oversight, not an inflation of existing problems at the expense of the most vulnerable.