Migrants crossing the southern border of the U.S. have been documented seeking to escape Department of Homeland Security (DHS) custody, including assaults against agents.
The emails revealing the attempts were obtained by the Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project to share insights into the plight of Border Patrol agents.
“Our [Border Patrol] agents are being assaulted and we aren’t saying a word,” Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz wrote in a September 2021 email.
“The bus contractors and pilots are dealing with Haitians escaping or trying to overrun drivers and we stay quiet. Agents and pro staff are working 14 hours days in difficult conditions, nothing said. We have to change the narrative or these stories will be the only story,” he added.
The report comes as Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data release for December showed more than 250,000 migrant encounters at the Southwest border, a record number for the month. The number does not include an unknown number of “gotaways,” migrants who evaded CBP after crossing the border.
The CBP estimates that 1.2 million gotaways occurred over the past year, though the exact number is uncertain. The concerning numbers have continued to lead to calls for immigration reform from the Biden administration.
Mark Morgan, former acting CBP commissioner, and Tom Homan, former acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) director, released a statement following the publication of the emails.
“The only conclusion to draw from these emails is that Joe Biden, Secretary Mayorkas, and senior DHS leadership are content to double down on their open-borders policies, and that they simply do not care about how these policies impact the morale and well-being of the Border Patrol,” they wrote. “Mayorkas, in particular, as one of the chief architects and consistent defenders of this radical agenda, bears unique responsibility for the cratering of morale across the force. Even his own agents have lost confidence in his ‘leadership.’”
President Joe Biden visited the border at El Paso, Texas, earlier this month. His visit corresponded with a new migrant program to allow up to 30,000 asylum claims each month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
To qualify, migrants must apply from their home countries, pass a background check and prove they have a financial supporter in the U.S.
The Biden administration plan also begins to use the emergency health order Title 42 to expel the same number of migrants from those four countries to Mexico if they attempt to enter the U.S. illegally. According to the Department of Homeland Security, Mexico has agreed to accept up to 30,000 migrants a month from those countries under Title 42.
Conservative lawmakers argue that the new effort will not improve the situation at the border. Instead, it is claimed that the program will simply change the numbers in different categories to make border numbers appear lower.