The head of the Border Patrol union is warning that agents, already overwhelmed by the ongoing crisis at the southern border, are feeling “completely defeated” ahead of the ending of Title 42 this week — amid widespread fears of an even bigger surge once the public health order ends.
“We feel completely and totally defeated,” National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd told Fox News Digital in an interview.
“You can go to any station right now, and there’s just not a whole lot of talk among agents,” he said. “It used to be that there was a lot of camaraderie, a lot of joking, people just pretty happy doing their jobs now. There’s just nothing.”
The Title 42 public health order — which has allowed for the rapid return of hundreds of thousands of migrants at the southern border since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic — will expire on Wednesday due to a court ruling that found the order’s use unlawful.
There were more than 2.3 million migrant encounters at the border in fiscal year 2022, and fiscal year 2023 has so far been on track to outpace that number. Now, with the lifting of Title 42, there are fears from both Republicans and Democrats that there will be an even bigger surge once the expulsion order lifts.
The administration has acknowledged that there will be a surge and has made a $4 billion request for extra funding from Congress based on a projection of between 9,000 and 15,000 crossings a day. For context, the average for fiscal year 2022, the average was 6,500 crossings a day.
Many parts of the border are already overwhelmed, with areas already seeing higher numbers, including in El Paso where there has been a 255% spike in apprehensions, and Border Patrol agents have been dropping migrants off on the street. Judd says the prospect of even higher numbers is hammering already low morale.
“We just feel, we all feel just completely defeated, like there’s just no point in doing our jobs. We still do it, don’t get me wrong. We still go do our job, but we just feel like there’s just absolutely no point. And so it’s just really bad.”
The Biden administration has emphasized both its funding request and a six-point plan it has in place that involves surging resources to the border, greater cooperation with Western Hemisphere countries, greater use of alternative removal authorities and additional anti-smuggling efforts.
“We’re mindful of the fact that Title 42 is going to end early next week,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told the El Paso Times last week during a visit to the border. “We’re also mindful of the fact that we have to coordinate with our partners, not just the nonprofit organizations with which we work very closely, not just cities along the border like El Paso, but also our international partners. So, we’re moving as quickly as we can.”
White House officials have also been highlighting efforts, including anti-smuggling campaigns and additional border funding, that the administration has secured — while calling on Republicans to green light additional funding.
Judd was dismissive of the DHS six-point plan.
“There is no plan,” he said. “That six-point plan is the exact same plan that they’ve been doing for at least a year now. And it’s been completely and totally ineffective.”
He also said that the extra funding will only be used to process migrants into the U.S. even quicker.
“The only thing that money does is moves people through the system faster. That’s all it does,” he said.
Morale has been an issue for Border Patrol since the crisis began. Agents have hammered the Biden administration’s policies and complained that their jobs have in many cases been reduced to processing rather than keeping the border secure and the American people safe — with historic numbers of illegal immigrants slipping past agents at the border.
“We were supposed to be involved in enforcement, and we’re stuck doing both enforcement and asylum. We’re stuck taking people into custody, we’re not patrolling the border. We’re doing administrative duties — and that was never what we were supposed to do,” Judd said.
He also highlighted some of the abuse and stress that faces agents in doing their job on the front lines of the crisis every day.
“We get spit at, we get cussed at, we get told by people we take into custody, they’re going to rape our wives, kill our children, and you have to put up with all of that,” he said. “And then also knowing that you’re just not accomplishing anything, it just makes it really, really hard.”
As for what will happen this week, Judd predicted an “immediate explosion” of people coming through on the 21st and 22nd, given the number of people already camped out on the other side of the border.
“There are people that are leery of coming until the end of Title 42. So, I think that you’re going to see a huge ramp-up starting probably the end of December, the beginning of January. But there is going to be a huge explosion because there are all kinds of people that are camped out right now just waiting for it to end.”