Border Patrol suicides spike as frustration with Biden immigration policy mounts

Trained agents are taking their own lives at record rates as the flow of drugs and illegal immigrants into the U.S. continues to devastate communities.

Published: November 23, 2022 5:38pm

Updated: November 24, 2022 11:04pm

Border Patrol agents are committing suicide at a record rate this year as frustrations within the agency increase amid a historic surge in illegal immigration under the Biden administration.

At least three agents took their own lives in the last two weeks.

Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz reported on Twitter the apparent suicides of two agents — Roque "Rocky" Sarinana and Javier Fabela — who worked in the Rio Grande Valley sector in Texas, and Rep. Mayra Flores (R-Texas) tweeted about a third, unnamed agent from the El Paso sector in Texas who also took their own life.

National Border Patrol Council Vice President At-Large Sergio Moreno, who is part of the agency's National Suicide Prevention Workforce, confirmed to the Daily Caller News Foundation that an agent died by suicide in El Paso and said a fourth agent also committed suicide on Sunday.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP), of which Border Patrol is a part, set a record for suicides in 2009, when 14 CBP personnel took their own lives, according to Moreno and immigration experts. The federal agency has been tracking suicides since 2007.

In September, the Washington Examiner reported that so far this year 11 "CBP employees" had died by suicide. With the reported suicides over the last two weeks, the agency would have at least tied its previous all-time high, if not surpassed it by one.

Border Patrol agents make up roughly one-third of CBP's workforce. Just the News couldn't confirm precisely how many suicides were committed by Border Patrol agents versus other CBP employees. CBP didn't respond to a request for comment for this story.

The surge in suicides has alarmed experts and lawmakers alike, with many Republicans in Congress lambasting Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas for not doing enough to address the problem.

"The bottom line is [the Border Patrol] need our prayers and support," Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) told the John Solomon Reports podcast on Tuesday. "That support cannot just be empty rhetoric from a secretary of homeland security who has no interest and no desire to actually secure the homeland. That's the truth. These guys are being left out hanging out to dry."

Roy referenced how Mayorkas bolstered the false narrative that Border Patrol agents had whipped Haitian migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border hours after being told no such whipping took place.

"How do you think they feel?" asked Roy, referring to Border Patrol. "How do you think they feel overwhelmed, outgunned, outmanned, the cartels trying to jam horrible things in our communities and destroying our communities and way of life. And then their own secretary lies about them and says that they're systemically racist. That's why this administration needs to be absolutely held to account."

Since President Biden entered office, there's been a sharp rise in the number of people who've crossed the southern border illegally. The figure reached a record 2.38 million illegal crossings in fiscal year 2022 and over 230,000 just last month to start fiscal year 2023, according to CBP data.

The Biden administration "doesn't have a policy of deterring illegal immigrants from coming into the U.S.," Andrew Arthur, resident fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, previously told Just the News. "In fact, it seems to be the opposite."

In May, Fox News host Bret Baier asked Mayorkas in an interview whether it's "the objective of the Biden administration to reduce, sharply reduce the total number of illegal immigrants coming across the southern border."

Mayorkas responded, "It is the objective of the Biden administration to make sure that we have safe, orderly, and legal pathways for individuals to be able to access our legal system."

Beyond Mayorkas, Chris Magnus, who served as CBP commissioner until he was forced to resign earlier this month, also came under fire, in part for reportedly deciding that instead of improving agents' working conditions he would change the agency's "culture" His goals included "adding more female officers and tightening rules for pursuing migrants fleeing in cars," the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Biden administration's immigration policies may have contributed to the record number of Border Patrol suicides, according to people close to the situation.

"Under the current administration, we are not allowed to do the full functions of the Border Patrol, the enforcement aspect," Moreno told the Daily Caller, citing conversations with "distraught" colleagues of the deceased agents.

"Since the Biden administration came into office, we lost our purpose," an anonymous Border Patrol agent added, highlighting a growing sense of low morale among rank-and-file CBP personnel.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) echoed these sentiments at a press conference on the southern border in El Paso on Tuesday.

Mayorkas has "blocked [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] and Border Patrol from enforcing our laws while vilifying them at the same time," said McCarthy, who drew a direct link from the administration's actions to the spike in suicides.

Amid an increasing number of agents taking their own lives, CBP earlier this year became the first government entity to hire a suicidologist, Dr. Kent Corso.

While it remains to be seen whether the suicide figures will go down, the situation at the border will likely get worse, according to Arthur, who argued in a new article that Title 42 was the "only control on illegal entries" at the southern border under the Biden administration.

Title 42 is the public health authority exercised by the Trump administration that allows border officials to expel migrants without allowing them to apply for asylum in order to limit the spread of COVD-19. The Biden administration has attempted to end the measure, and a federal judge last week vacated Title 42 orders, giving the administration until Dec. 21 to wind down its use.

The Department of Homeland Security has warned the country could face upwards of 18,000 illegal migrants coming across the southern border per day if Title 42 is lifted.

"That's 17 times more aliens than the fewer than 17,000 Border Patrol agents at the Southwest border will be able to handle," wrote Arthur. "The Biden administration can rush all the support staff and resources it wants to the U.S.-Mexico line to process and release those migrants, but [Border Patrol frustrations] will simply rise and boil over."

Just the News has previously reported that due to an overwhelming number of illegal immigrants entering the country, well over 50% of agents are often pulled off guarding the 1,954-mile U.S.-Mexico border to process, care for, and transfer migrants, leaving huge gaps for cartels and smugglers to exploit. Surges in illegal immigration have led to surges in drugs and human trafficking across the southern border.

"Mayorkas doesn't have to deal with the administration's border failures, except at congressional hearings that have been too few and far between under Democratic leadership," wrote Arthur. "The agents do, and as 14 lost lives in a year suggest, they are suffering. Suicide is a cry for help, and with an administration that's not answering the call, it's incumbent on Congress to act."

The Department of Homeland Security's main press office didn't respond to a request for comment for this story.

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