The New Role of the U.S. Border Patrol

Will Border Patrol agents soon become a mainstay at customs border crossings?

U.S. Border Patrol agents, who have been apprehending fewer undocumented people each year as a result of tightened security, may now be asked to assist other federal agencies instead of concentrating solely on deterring and apprehending undocumented individuals.

The reevaluation of Border Patrol Agents appears to be long overdue, as it has been shown that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the area of El Paso, for example, have been apprehending and removing far more undocumented individuals through employment raids and the Secure Communities program and at major ports of entry than the Border Patrol.

Border Patrol agents apprehended 352 undocumented persons per agent in 1993. By FY2011, this number dropped to just 17.7 undocumented persons per agent. Likewise, agents in the El Paso Sector went from a high of 470 apprehensions per agent in 1993 to just 3.8 apprehensions in 2011.

A strategy was announced by the Border Patrol to begin collaborating with other federal agencies. Specifically, the Border Patrol may soon fight transnational drugs and crimes by assisting U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Homeland Security.

The Border Patrol 2012-1016 Strategic Plan has recognized the major drop in activity for Border Patrol agents and has therefore suggested that its agent’s efforts should be redirected to other much-needed areas, such as the ports of entry and efforts to combat terrorism and transnational crime.

The long wait lines at customs border crossings may be the perfect fit for Border Patrol agents, who can help reduce the long wait and address the current understaffing issues of Customs and Border Protection.

The redirection of Border Patrol agents, in addition to easing the workload of Customs and Border Protection agents, will greatly reduce the time it takes citizens to get across the border. For example, residents of El Paso will be able to cross the border to go to work, to enjoy nightlife, or to dine in a fraction of the time.