NGAUS Washington Report
May 29, 2018
The head of the union for the agents who patrol the nation’s borders said the National Guard mission on the Mexican border is a “colossal waste of resources.”
Brandon Judd, the president of the National Border Patrol Council that represents 15,000 agents, told The Los Angeles Times, “When I found out the National Guard was going to be on the border, I was extremely excited.”
He said previous efforts by the Guard on the border have been helpful, but this time, he said, “We have seen no benefit.”
Lt. Col. Jamie Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, refused to comment on Judd’s remarks, but told the newspaper that about 1,600 Guardsmen are on the border and the total could reach 4,000 “based on requests for assistance and what they need.”
He said, “We want to match the right number of troops to do the jobs that are needed, not just provide a certain number of troops.”
Carla Provost, the acting chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, acknowledged the Guard role has changed from previous missions, such as Operation Jump Start under President George W. Bush. Guardsmen now are mostly behind the scenes providing surveillance and air support.
“I want my agents out on the front line enforcing the laws,” Provost told the newspaper. When a Guardsman takes on a support role now performed by an agent, it frees that agent to move to the border.
Katie Waldman, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, said the Guard’s mission “has clearly and unquestionably been a success with thousands of additional apprehensions and millions of dollars of drugs kept out of our country.”
But Judd said Guardsmen have been more effective in previous missions when they manned observation posts on the front line. They were limited to an “observe and report” role and could not apprehend illegal crossers, but it was more help than is being provided now.
“They were allowed to be in lookout and observation posts,” he said. “They were allowed to be out grading the roads and mending fences. They were allowed to be our eyes and ears, freeing us up.”
He said agents have complained about the restrictions placed on Guardsmen, who are largely far from the border. One agent told the newspaper, “They aren’t out in the fields like last time, doing the observation points. So if the goal was to get more agents out to the line, they have fallen short.”
“We generally support the administration,” Judd said, “but we’re not going to be cheerleading when things are not going well.”