The U.S. Border Patrol announced that it’s creating a new position specifically tailored to processing and caring for migrants that reach the southern border, allowing agents to refocus their work on enforcement.
The “Border Patrol Processing Coordinator” will assume certain responsibilities that have consumed the agency’s time as it deals with a surge of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) press release on Tuesday. The new position is meant to bring relief to agents who have long complained that the humanitarian crisis has kept them from performing their main role at the border.
Coordinators are to be tasked with feeding, cleaning, transporting and other general tasks for illegal immigrants in Border Patrol custody. Migrants in need of medical care will be transported to hospitals by coordinators, who will also be assigned to watch over migrants as they receive care.
“I am committed to providing the men and women of the U.S. Border Patrol the resources they need to accomplish their border security mission,” Carla Provost, Chief of the Border Patrol, said in a prepared statement on Tuesday. “Border Patrol Processing Coordinators will take on processing, transportation, and custody responsibilities, which will free up agents for critical law enforcement operations.”
It’s not clear how many Border Patrol Processing Coordinators the agency plans to bring on, but CBP indicated they are currently developing the position and plan to begin hiring by early fiscal year 2020.
The announcement comes as Border Patrol agents are becoming inundated with tens of thousands of illegal immigrants every month — many of them family units and unaccompanied children that require special care. The result of the crisis has forced 40% of agents at the Southwest border to focus on the menial tasks that come with caring for migrants — taking them away from their law enforcement role.
The crisis has not only forced migrant detention centers to release thousands of families into the interior of the U.S., but has also meant a lack of narcotics enforcement. Officials within the Department of Homeland Security are warning that drug cartels in Mexico are taking advantage of the immigration emergency that’s consuming agents’ time.
“Right now, we are babysitting,” an agent stated in January, decrying the nursing role they’ve been forced to take on. “We’re supposed to pay attention to medical conditions that we’re not trained for. We are not machines. We’re emotionally stressed.”
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