As the immigration reform Gang of Eight inside the Beltway prepares to announce a deal later this week, claiming border security will come before a path to citizenship for millions of illegals, Border Patrol agents have seen illegal border crossings double and warn the cutting of agent work hours will only result in less border security, not more.
"We've seen the number of illegal aliens double, maybe even triple since amnesty talk started happening," an agent told Townhall, who asked to remain unnamed due to fears of retaliation within Customs and Border Protection [CBP], something he said is common. "A lot of these people, although not the majority, are criminals or aggravated felons. This is a direct danger to our communities."
Data obtained by Townhall and reported within CBP from February 5 through March 1, 2013 shows 504 illegal aliens were spotted exploiting the Tucson/Nogales area, 189 were caught on CBP intelligence cameras. Of those 504, only 174 were apprehended and 32 of the 189 on camera were carrying large drug load packs for Mexican cartels. Some were armed with AK-47 style weapons.
Below are selected photos obtained by Townhall from CBP intelligence cameras in Southern Arizona near the border with Mexico. Sensitive information has been redacted in order to protect the security and identity of the camera locations.
Last week, Fox News reported sections of the border will soon become unpatrolled as hours for on-the-ground agents are cut. Townhall has learned Border Patrol agents working the border have been fully funded, yet internal political battles within CBP may be causing funds to be funneled to managers, rather than those getting their boots dirty on patrols.
"Customs and Border Protection has been given enough money to fully staff the border but has chosen to use the money elsewhere, we believe it is to fund the salaries of Supervisory CBP Officers. The money they are diverting was to go to AUO (Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime) which is actually straight pay and is used to pay Border Patrol Agents for anything past eight hours. Being that we have to maintain staffing 24/7 this is a huge part of border security. The criminals and drugs don't stop coming so we have to make sure we have people out there. Cutting AUO will be a 30% pay cut for our agents but more importantly a minimum 20% loss of staffing out in the field," Vice President of the National Border Patrol Council Shawn Moran tells Townhall. "It is internal politics within CBP and also with immigration reform. There are still battles between legacy Customs, INS, and Border Patrol managers as to the direction CBP takes and how the funds are being used. Meanwhile both parties claim no immigration reform until the border is secured, well this surely will not secure the border."
As sequestration goes into full effect April 7 and a deal in Washington on immigration reform gets locked in, illegal crossings are expected to get worse.
"We have seen increased crossings and smuggling since word of staffing cuts began circulating. The illegals have even told us that is why they tried crossing. The border is safer but by no means secure," Moran says.
Another agent expressed the same sentiment, saying when apprehended, some illegal aliens ask where they can go to find amnesty.
Despite border security being put further at risk through bad policy, the push for immigration reform well before full border security is ongoing. The AFL-CIO reached a deal with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on a guest worker program late last Friday. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said the Gang of Eight has reached a deal on immigration reform on CNN's State of the Union over the weekend, but Republican Senator Marco Rubio has said reports of a deal are pre-mature.