Stats Paint Dismal Picture of Southwest Border Security Under Biden’s ‘No-Deterrence’ Plan

Border Patrol agents are too busy processing aliens to stop the drugs now skipping the ports

By Andrew R. Arthur on July 15, 2022

Though CBP’s website does a poor job of disclosing the number of illegal migrants released into the United States, it contains other informative statistics from which the state of the Southwest border can be gleaned — assuming you know where to look. If you do look, however, beware, because you will see the dismal impact the human tsunami of illegal migrants at the U.S.-Mexico line has had on the Border Patrol’s ability to perform one of its core missions — stopping the flow of drugs.

Border Patrol Duties Do Not Match Its Staffing. According to CBP’s website, the agency’s mission is to, “Protect the American people, safeguard our borders, and enhance the nation’s economic prosperity.”

While carrying out that mission at the ports of entry is the duty of CBP officers (CBPOs) in the agency’s Office of Field Operations (OFO), between the ports, responsibility for “protecting the American people” and “safeguarding our borders” falls on Border Patrol agents.

Border Patrol’s “primary mission” is “to detect and prevent the illegal entry of individuals into the United States”, a fact that seems to have been lost on the investigators at CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility, who apparently believe “preventing illegal entry” is a crime.

Stopping the flow of illicit drugs is also one of Border Patrol’s key responsibilities. In fact, the component describes itself as “the primary drug-interdicting organization along the Southwest border”.

Even in the best of times, there are too few Border Patrol agents to carry out these duties at the U.S.-Mexico line. In FY 2020 — the last year for which staffing statistics are available — there were just 16,878 agents patrolling the 1,954-miles of the U.S.-Mexico line. Attrition has likely taken a toll since — morale among the agents was described by their union chief in April as being at an “all-time low”.

Those agents usually work 50-hour weeks, meaning that at any given time, there are just fewer than 5,025 agents “on the line”.

Biden Doesn’t Want to Deter Illegal Migrants — He Wants to Ensure They Can Seek Asylum. These are not “the best of times” at the Southwest border. In fact, CBP’s statistics reveal it is instead “the worst of times”. Border Patrol agents there apprehended more illegal migrants in FY 2021 than in any fiscal year in history, and in May apprehended more illegal migrants at the Southwest border than in any single month in history (monthly records by region go back to October 1999).

The reason why apprehensions are at record highs is simple: Unlike every prior president, Joe Biden has no desire — let alone policy — to deter foreign nationals from entering the United States illegally.

Instead, the official policy of Biden’s DHS is to ensure that every alien who can make it to U.S. soil — legally, illegally, fraudulently, or otherwise — has a “safe, orderly, and legal pathway” to apply for asylum, regardless of whether they are simply coming to make more money and even if they passed through numerous asylum-granting countries on the way.

The Effect of Biden’s Anti-Deterrence Strategy on Border Security. If the number of illegal entrants at the Southwest border were low, and if Border Patrol had unlimited manpower and resources, Biden’s anti-deterrence strategy would have minimal impacts on the safety of the American people, though it would still be illegal under a law then-Sen. Biden (D-Del.) voted for.

As the foregoing analysis shows, however, there are too few agents and they have too few resources to do their job under optimal conditions, let alone under an administration that — again — has no policy, program, or plan that deters illegal entrants.

In areas along the border, only about 30 percent of agents are “on the line” stopping drugs, terrorists, criminals, and other migrants who don’t want to be caught (known as “got-aways”). The rest of those agents are processing, transporting, and caring for the “give-ups” — migrants who want to be processed as quickly as possible so that they can be released into the United States.

Let me do the math for you — 30 percent of 5,025 is just less than 1,508 agents, or one agent every 1.3 miles along the Southwest border. The more “give ups” there are, the more “got-aways” there will be — and the more drugs, gang members, and potential terrorists that make it in successfully.

The problem is it’s impossible to quantify what CBP can’t stop. The agency’s statistics, however, allow us to make a fairly educated guess about what isn’t being stopped, which brings me to the latest CBP drug seizure numbers.

Drug Seizures Are Down at the Border and the Ports at the Southwest Border. To cut to the chase, CBP’s Southwest border drug seizures in the first eight months of FY 2022 were down — way down. Total, between CBPOs at the ports and Border Patrol agents between those ports, the agency has seized 193,000 pounds of drugs at the U.S.-Mexico line.

While that may seem like a lot of drugs, there are two things keep in mind.

First, with limited exceptions, most illegal narcotics and stimulants consumed illicitly in the United States enter this country from Mexico, where they are either produced or through which they are shipped to U.S. markets.

Second, by the end of May in FY 2021, CBP had seized some 328,500 pounds of drugs at the Southwest border, a figure more than 41 percent greater than its haul this fiscal year.

Of course, as I noted above, Border Patrol was stretched thin that fiscal year, too. A more representative timeframe is FY 2019, when migrant apprehensions were still high (prompting the then-DHS secretary to declare a “border emergency”), but nothing like what is happening there now.

Through the first eight months of FY 2019, CBP seized nearly 424,000 pounds of drugs, more than twice its seizures this fiscal year.

Echoing more than a few so-called “experts”, then-candidate Joe Biden asserted on his campaign website that “illicit drugs are most likely to be smuggled through one of the legal U.S. ports of entry. They are hidden among commercial cargo in semi-trucks or in a hidden compartment of a passenger vehicle.”

With due respect those experts and the now president, that is an unverifiable statement, because again, there is no way to measure what either OFO or Border Patrol doesn’t stop.

In fact, CBP’s drug-seizure statistics suggest that the cartels — canny, adaptable, and evil as they are — have switched their business model to move more drugs between the ports, not through them.

In the first eight months of FY 2022, CBPOs at the ports stopped 137,000 pounds of illegal drugs.

By comparison, between October and May in FY 2021, drug apprehensions at the Southwest border ports totaled 205,400 pounds — more than 33 percent greater than in FY 2022 through the end of May. In the first eight months of FY 2019, CBPOs at the U.S.-Mexico line stopped 285,700 pounds of drugs, more than twice their seizures in the first eight months of this fiscal year.

Border Patrol drug apprehensions are also down. In the first eight months of FY 2022, Southwest border agents have seized 56,300 pounds of drugs, compared to 123,100 pounds in FY 2021, and 193,500 in FY 2019.

If Drug Seizures Are Down, What’s the Problem? Twitter trolls would likely ask why there is a problem if drug seizures are down — doesn’t that mean that the border is more secure? No, just the opposite is true, as CDC statistics reveal.

According to that agency, U.S. drug overdose deaths have been on a steep trajectory up over the last four years: From 67,367 in 2018 to 70,630 in 2019 to 91,799 in 2020 to 107,622 in 2021 — an increase of more than 40 percent over the period. There are no drug overdose deaths without drugs, meaning that the flow of deadly drugs is increasing.

The most logical reason for CBPO drug apprehensions to be down in FY 2022 is because now it’s much safer and cost-effective for the cartels and their smuggler minions to run drugs across the depleted Southwest border between the ports than through the ports themselves. Let me explain.

Every traveler through the ports of entry must interact with a CBPO. Those officers are skilled at looking for signs of criminality, and in particular smuggling. Officers at the land ports have trained canines and x-ray equipment they can use to check suspect loads. And you don’t get to leave the port until the CBPO says you can.

None of those advantages are available to Border Patrol agents between the ports. In fact, agents must catch smugglers entering illegally before they can question them. When there are fewer agents on the line — as there are today, thanks to Biden’s no-deterrence policy — the odds of never talking to a federal government officer increase, exponentially, once you enter illegally.

Drug smuggling is a cat-and-mouse game traffickers play at the border with CBP. Smugglers are constantly refining their “business plans” to ensure the highest profits at the lowest cost. When the ports are defended but the border between the ports is wide open — as they are today — drug smugglers will exploit that weakness in the line. That’s what CBP’s statistics will tell you — if you know where to look.