Border patrol chief admits ‘morale at all-time low’ (VIDEO)
In a video taken during a visit by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in Laredo, Texas – and reported by several US media outlets on Saturday – US Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz attempted to empathize with the frustrations of the job, but his comments led to a heated back-and-forth with agents.
In the video, Ortiz admits that “morale [in the force] is at an all-time low,” noting that the CBP is “losing too many agents” as it has dealt with record numbers of migrants crossing at the southern border.
“You come to work, you’re frustrated. You’re upset because you didn’t get the desired outcome that you want. Doesn’t mean you give up,” Ortiz said at one point to an increasingly hostile crowd, to which one officer responded by saying, “We’re not.”
“That’s why I’m saying, we don’t give up. We stay focused, we continue to do the job and the mission that we signed up for. We all signed up for it, we all raised our hand,” Ortiz then said, only to be interrupted again by someone arguing those things are “kind of hard to say” in light of the situation at the border.
Leaked video shared with me shows a contentious meeting between DHS Sec. Mayorkas, BP Chief Raul Ortíz and Laredo Border Patrol agents today.The challenge comes after Mayorkas faced a similar problem during his visit in Yuma: https://t.co/ebzUi9tNpM(Pt. 1) pic.twitter.com/OrXH1X8V8N— Valerie Gonzalez (@ValOnTheBorder) January 29, 2022
“It may be hard for you to say it.” Ortiz replies. “I’ve been doing this for 31 years. It’s not hard for me to say it.”
Other agents then complained about new policies implemented during Joe Biden’s presidency, including “releasing criminal aliens into the country,” while another noted they were discouraged from using the term “illegal aliens” when referring to migrants.
“You’re getting bogged down in the policies and the politics,” Ortiz responded. He claimed that there was no punishment for using the term and agents are too concerned with the “semantics” preferred by various administrations.
“We can sit here and argue until we're blue in the face, all right. I've been doing this job as long as y'all,” Ortiz added, to which one agent replied, “That’s the problem, chief.”
According to US Customs and Border Patrol data, there were more than 170,000 encounters at the border for agents in the month of December. Out of some 178,840 people apprehended that month, 78,589 were expelled and more than 55,000 were released into the US, including more than 36,000 who were released on the so-called personal “recognizance” on condition that they attend a court hearing on their status.