While the battle for Immigration Reform in Congress seems to be stagnant for the time being, a typical interim measure to pour money into the border patrol for agents and to fund prosecutions of migrants in the country illegally may become less popular in the coming days. The dysfunction evident in the border patrol is beginning to eclipse the “achievement” of having record-low border crossings and record-high prosecutions.
ABC-10 in San Diego recently reported on an internal Border Patrol memo from October that “describes an ‘alarming’ and ‘detrimental’ alcohol problem within the federal police agency.” An agent speaking to the station on condition of anonymity told them that officers would frequently be drunk on duty and even while making arrests. This report comes on the heels of a recent revelation that Border Patrol agents were abusing emergency overtime in order to pad their take-home pay.
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For those who find themselves abused at the hands of border patrol agents, justice can come very slowly. Only last week were two agents sentenced who burned the shoes and jackets of four suspected drug smugglers, forced them to eat marijuana, and then sent them off into the night in 2008. Stories of inhumane treatment along the border are not rare and if alcohol abuse is a factor in these situations the Border Patrol faces an uphill struggle to reclaim credibility.
Still, in light of all this, ThinkProgress.org has compiled a list of statistics that show that prosecution of illegal border crossing is reaching record highs. “Overall,” the article states, “criminal prosecutions for border crossing are on pace to reach nearly 100,000 by the end of the fiscal year, a steep increase from 27,428” the year President Obama took office. Considering that border crossings are at a 40-year low, one wonders if the problems facing the Border Patrol aren’t due to boredom.