EDINBURG, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Border Patrol agents across the nation have seen the largest number of people illegally crossing the border since records were kept.
New data released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection revealed it isn’t just illegal crossings increasing, it’s everything from narcotics seized to Border Patrol agents assaulted while on duty.
According to the data, 618 CBP officers and or Border Patrol agents were assaulted in the Fiscal Year 2021.
April 2021 saw the highest number of assaults with a record-breaking 70 officers and agents attacked while on duty in one month.
Fifty-three percent of the assaults on border officers or agents were by physical assault, but other attacks included being struck by objects like a rock, assaulted with a vehicle, a gun, or a knife.
In the Rio Grande Valley, assaults on agents saw an increase from 2020 to 2021. During the last fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, there were 71 reported attacks on RGV agents, and last year 56 reported attacks.
“It’s very common for there to be assaults, ” said Border Patrol Agent Chris Cabrera, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council and stationed in the Rio Grande Valley.
“We’ve had agents punched, spit at, kicked, those are the most common,” said Cabrera, “We also have more violent attacks where agents are run over, they’ll have their batons grabbed from them, and then attacked, it happens.”
Data shows there were 39 reported assaults on Border Patrol agents where a vehicle or a vessel were used to harm the agent, during the 2021 Fiscal Year.
“We also had issues with the Haitians in Del Rio when some of them took over a bus and just assaulted the agent on the bus,” said Cabrera.
In another instance, a female Border Patrol agent was assaulted by a smuggler who hit the agent with a 2X4 board through the gaps of a border wall.
She was the only agent patrolling in that area around 3:15 a.m. with a group of 15 immigrants when one of them decided to repeatedly hit her with the wood.
Shortly after, backup agents arrived and transported the injured agent to a hospital where she was treated for contusions and facial lacerations.
It was the third assault in the same area in less than 30 days.
“Nine times out of ten we’re outnumbered, one agent to 10 illegals or two agents with 40 to 50 illegals and you only carry so many handcuffs, so there’s always that risk,” said Cabrera.
Another trend agents are encountering is being shot at from the Mexican side of the riverbank.
“Often when it does happen, the U.S. Attorney’s Office doesn’t take it,” said Cabrera, “A lot of the times we try to get the charges to the state because they will take it a lot quicker than our own guys will take it.”
Why the charges aren’t filed as often as Border Patrol Union Staff would like is unclear, but what is evident is the number of attacks is increasing.
The number of gang members being caught at the border is also going up.
“Nationwide, our agents encountered 348 gang members with 150 being caught in RGV,” said Border Patrol Agent Jesse Moreno.
Out of those 348 gang members caught, data shows 113 of them were MS-13 gang members. The second highest gang affiliation recorded was the Paisas gang with 79 affiliated arrests.
Data shows the majority of these gang-affiliated people crossing come with a prior criminal history.
“We see everything from homicide, rape, sexual assault of a child, these offenses are very serious,” said Moreno.
In FY 21, data shows 10,763 people with a criminal history were caught by U.S. Border Patrol agents trying to cross the border illegally.
Out of those 10,763 arrests, 1,904 of them had an outstanding warrant for their arrest.
Those numbers are just for U.S. Border Patrol.
CBP’s Office of Field Operations encountered an additional 6,567 noncitizens with a criminal history trying to enter the country.
What’s the solution for the increase in all these numbers?
Border Patrol agents told ValleyCentral they feel overwhelmed and left without options due to the country’s broken immigration system.
“That’s nothing that can be done on the enforcement side, that needs to be a fix in Washington D.C. and for some reason, they don’t want to do it,” said Cabrera.
For now, it’s a risk these agents said they’ll take to protect the United States of America and its borders.
“It is an unfortunate reality that our agents are assaulted when our agents are safeguarding the U.S. in these incidents they will be prosecuted to the full extent by the law,” said Moreno.
Nationwide, for Fiscal Year 2021, there were nearly 2 million encounters at the border by CBP.
Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol Sector agents made 549,077 migrant encounters in Fiscal Year 2021. It accounted for 33% of all Border Patrol apprehensions nationwide, which is higher than the USBP total number of encounters for the previous two years combined.
The total amount of border encounters in Fiscal Year 2020 was 646,822.