From the Right



Federal Civilian Employees in Kentucky Outnumber Border Patrol at US-Mexico Border

Terence P. Jeffrey on

When John Modlin, the chief patrol agent for the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector, testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability on Feb. 7, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) asked him a straightforward question.

"How many agents roughly do you guys think that the Border Patrol needs right now?" she said.

"So, the Border Patrol is at about 19,300 or so," he said. "I think a reasonable amount of agents for the Border Patrol would be about 22,000."

Yet, during President Joe Biden's time in office, as Jake Smith of the Daily Caller News Foundation has reported, Customs and Border Protection has faced two challenges: a surge in illegal immigrants coming across the border and a stagnation in the number of Border Patrol agents deployed to stop them.

On May 3, the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security issued a report entitled "Intensifying Conditions at the Southwest Border Are Negatively Impacting CBP and ICE Employees' Health and Morale."

"CBP and ICE workloads have grown significantly due to factors beyond the Department of Homeland Security's control, namely increasing border encounters and travel volume," said this report. "Despite greater workloads, staffing levels have remained the same, with CBP and ICE using details and overtime to temporarily address the rising number of encounters along the Southwest border."


"Unless CBP and ICE assess and strategically change their current staffing management at the border, heavier workloads and low morale may lead to higher turnover and earlier retirements," said the inspector general. "This could worsen staffing challenges and degrade CBP and ICE's capacity to perform their mission."

An historical table posted online by CBP shows that the total number of Border Patrol agents nationwide peaked at 21,444 in fiscal 2011. That year, the Border Patrol had 18,506 agents on the southwest border. In fiscal 2012, there were 21,394 Border Patrol agents nationwide, and 18,516 were deployed at the southwest border. In fiscal 2013, there were 21,391 Border Patrol agents nationwide, and the number deployed at the southwest border peaked at 18,610.

But by fiscal 2017, the number of Border Patrol agents nationwide had dropped to 19,437, and the number deployed at the southwest border had declined to 16,605.

Between then and fiscal 2022, the year that saw the most Border Patrol agents deployed at the southwest border was fiscal 2020. That year, according to the inspector general's report, it was 16,878.


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