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Tipsheet

Congress Working on Bipartisan Plan to Lower CBP Suicides Amid Historic Crisis

AP Photo/Matt York

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX) is leading a bipartisan effort to get lower the number of suicides with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as 2022 is about end with 14 suicides taking place, the highest in more than a decade, as Border Patrol and Customs agents have been facing the historic border crisis for almost two years.

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Gonzales was joined by Republicans such as Reps. Mayra Flores (TX) and Nicole Malliotakis (NY). Democrats in attendance included Reps. Henry Cuellar (TX) and Darren Soto (FL). 

"These aren't statistics, these aren't numbers on the paper. These are real people. Their families have been turned upside down. While in Washington, there's a lot of division...there's a lot of things that should unite us," Gonzales said at a press conference on Wednesday. "The fact that we have 14 agents who have committed suicide is a problem. I look at it, this body needs to solve this problem and we need to do it in a manner that brings us all together."

Gonzales will be introducing a bill that will be increasing funding and access to mental health resources for those working at CBP. National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd said there also needs to be assurances agents who are seeing mental health professionals are not automatically punished for seeking help from their demanding jobs.

"That is a huge fear for anybody to come to management or agency to tell them that they have an issue. It is because of that, that discourages an awful lot of people from doing this," Judd said.

Flores criticized the Biden administration for creating an extra stressful working environment for Border Patrol agents: 

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Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) told Townhall she disagreed with Biden's recent comment that he did not need to go to the border during a trip to Arizona because there were "more important" issues to turn his attention to.

"I think the [Biden] adminstration has to understand what's going on at the border. I've called it a crisis, it's a crisis, we all know it's a crisis. I think the other part of that is what needs to go on in [Congress]. No matter whether you're a Democrat or Republican in the White House, if we have failed immigration laws that aren't working for our country, they got one hand tied behind their back."

The press conference took place on the same day it was announced a Border Patrol agent in the Rio Grande Valley Sector was killed in a vehicle accident while tracking down illegal immigrants who recently crossed the border. 

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