The head of the union representing Border Patrol agents says the agency needs more agents, fewer managers, and better training to counter a surge in violence along the Southern border. Brandon Judd, president of AFGE's National Border Patrol Council, testified on Sept. 9 before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Judd, who has been a Border Patrol agent for 18 years, attributed much of the increase in violence along the border to the rise in drug cartels. The official death toll from the cartel violence in Mexico is 60,000, although the unofficial death toll is more than double, Judd said.
“Border Patrol agents throughout this nation will tell you the border is not secure and the Southwest Border certainly is not safe,” Judd said.
Judd called on Congress to take several steps to improve the situation:
Hire about 5,000 additional agents to supplement the existing staff of 21,370 agents. Some of these agents should be deployed to interior locations.
Reduce layers of management within the agency. Currently there is one supervisor for every four agents, while the average large police department has one supervisor for every 10 officers. Implementing a 10:1 ratio would return another 1,500 agents to the field, Judd said.
Restore training that was cut during the George W. Bush administration. Agents used to attend 20 weeks of training at the Border Patrol’s academy, but that has been reduced to as little as 54 days if an agent speaks Spanish.
Prosecute assaults against Border Patrol agents to the full extent of the law. Assaulting a federal law enforcement officer is a felony punishable by up to 8 years in prison, or up to 20 years if a deadly weapon is used.