Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, September 11, 2015
Less than half of the U.S.-Mexico border is under “operational control,” and one out of every five illegal immigrants caught there has a criminal record, the chief of Border Patrol agents’ labor union told Congress Wednesday when detailing violence that increasingly spills over the international boundary.
Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, said the level of criminal activity belies claims that because fewer illegal immigrants are being caught, the border has improved in recent years.
“This is the challenge we are facing at the border today,” he said. “There are those who will point to lower apprehension rates and tell you the border is secure. Border Patrol agents, however, throughout this nation will tell you the border is not secure, and the southwest border certainly is not safe.”
President Obama has said the border is secure enough that Congress can turn its attention to legalizing the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants already in the U.S. Many Republicans in Congress, and now many of those seeking the GOP’s presidential nomination in 2016, dispute that, saying that no action can be taken on legalization until more is done on enforcement.
Mr. Judd said agents on the border have no doubt that more is needed.
He said based on what they tell him about how much of the border is under operational control, “we would be lucky if we’re [at] 40 percent.”
Operational control is deemed to be when agents have a good chance of deterring or catching almost all illegal crossers. The Obama administration canceled use of the yardstick in 2010, but has yet to replace it with another public measure, leaving Congress struggling with how to judge progress.
Mr. Judd said the level of criminal behavior among those trying to cross illegally is also a major concern.
All told, 91,000 criminal aliens caught by the Border Patrol were deported last year, he said, compared to about 486,000 total illegal immigrants caught–a ratio of about 1 in 5. Nearly half of the criminal aliens deported had aggravated felonies on their records, Mr. Judd said.