Border Patrol Agent: ‘If the Administration Says This Isn’t Amnesty, Don’t Believe Them’
(CNSNews.com) -- Albert Spratte, the sergeant-at-arms of the National Border Patrol Council, Local 3307 in the Rio Grande Valley, said the Obama administration is largely to blame for waves of illegal immigrants that have been flooding the Southwest U.S. border since February, saying the government opened the door for the crisis by making it “clear they’re not going to deport people.”
Spratte, who was speaking with CNSNews.com as a representative of the union, further said “we don’t have control of the border,” and if the Obama administration claims it is not in effect giving amnesty to the illegals, then “don’t believe them.”
Also, by allowing so many young illegal aliens to be released into this country, “the U.S. government has become a part of the smuggling business,” he said.
“This is Washington’s problem to fix. This administration has made it pretty clear they’re not going to deport people, with things like the DREAM Act and all that,” Spratte told CNSNews.com during an interview on June 22 in McAllen, Texas, currently the busiest zone of the Rio Grande Valley Sector of the U.S.-Mexico border.
“It used to be that if you got caught, we sent you back. Now we don’t do that,” he said. “The people in Central America, they’ve heard we aren’t sending people back. Word’s gotten around. When these people come up to us and turn themselves over, that’s what they tell us. So we’ve created a suction now.”
“Even if the administration says this isn’t amnesty, don’t believe them,” Spratte added.
President Obama recently praised 10 illegal immigrants, which the administration dubbed “Champions of Change,” during a June 17 event at the White House. The immigrants, including six Latinos, are beneficiaries of Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative, in which an illegal alien who came to the United States as a child can apply for a two-year deportation deferment with an option to renew at the end of that term.
Spratte called the event a “slap in the face” to the U.S. Border Patrol’s efforts, as the agency struggles under an ever-increasing wave of immigrants crossing the Rio Grande daily.
“That event, where he honored those illegal immigrants, that was like a slap in the face,” he said.
“We’ve always had people come in, but now it’s exploded,” Spratte said. “A lot of them are kids, many of them unaccompanied. We’re good at our job, which is catching people, but we’re too busy babysitting.”
“It’s like you’re stuck in a nightmare and you can’t get out,” he said.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, more than 181,000 illegal immigrants have crossed the Rio Grande Valley Sector of the U.S.-Mexico border since last October 2013. More than 52,000 of these were unaccompanied minors, a 99 percent increase from the same time period in fiscal year 2013.
“The American people need to know it’s worse than they think,” Spratte said. “No one wants to say that because it means we don’t have control of the border. And we don’t.”
Spratte also said allowing minors to cross the border without fear of deportation causes more problems than just overcrowding.
“There are kids who come over with adults claiming to be their parents, and then we find out later that they aren’t,” Spratte explained, saying that without documentation, there’s no way for border patrol agents to verify anyone’s claim of parentage.
After processing, most children and family units are held at a border patrol station for sometimes more than a week, well past the typical one-to-three day detainment period, Spratte said. Some are transferred to holding facilities in other states such as Arizona, where most family units are then released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), after being given a “notice to appear” in court – dubbed permisos by Latinos.
Spratte said he doubts most illegal immigrants will make their court date after being released.
“You know they’re not going to show up,” Spratte said. “Of course, they’re not. Why would they, when they can just disappear and stay?”
Spratte said simply releasing illegal immigrants into the larger fabric of the country is dangerous not only for America, but for the child immigrants, especially when U.S. Border Patrol and ICE are unable to verify most of their stories before they are released.
“There’s no way of knowing how many just disappear, or go into the sex trade,” Spratte said. “The U.S. government has become a part of the smuggling business.”
Spratte also said anyone under 18 years old is treated as a minor, even if they have known gang associations. There is no way of knowing a person’s criminal history from his country of origin, so there is no telling who has been allowed to cross, he explained.
“We’ve had older adults posing as teens,” he said. “I’ll be standing there like, ‘I know you’re not 17, you look older than that.’ But without documentation, I can’t prove that. I have to treat that person as a minor.”
By law, U.S. Border Patrol is required to turn unaccompanied minors over to the Department of Health and Human Services after no more than 72 hours. But with such an overloaded system and no place to house the masses, Border Patrol stations have been turned into massive, overcrowded detention facilities.
The McAllen Station, which stands in the busiest zone of the Rio Grande Valley Sector, is authorized to detain only 380 people at a time, according to one border patrol agent. The facility is currently housing more than 1,100, he added, with men, women and children packed into a converted bus depot that serves as a makeshift shelter.
“You’ve got people crammed in a sally port all together with porta potties on either side, and you’ll see just a mass of bodies and space blankets,” Spratte said. “The sick people are separated by yellow crime scene tape, and that’s all. If we were a jail, we’d have been shut down.”
Having to transport, process and monitor so many people at one time also opens the door for smugglers to transport for drugs, like marijuana and cocaine, across the border without detection, Spratte said.
“The majority of agents believe more narcotics are getting away because we’re too busy dealing with this crisis,” he said. “And we know al Qaida has talked about bringing things like small pox across the border, so what are we not catching? We don’t know.”
Disease is also becoming a problem, Spratte said, citing cases of polio, scabies, leprosy and even rabies that have been reported.
“Chicken pox, small pox, H1N1, who knows,” Spratte said.
“The American people don’t realize how bad this is, but they’re going to when it becomes a problem where they live,” he said. “These people are being sent into other places in the U.S., so these diseases could end up in your backyard.”
“At a minimum, family units should be sent back,” Spratte said. “What you do with unaccompanied kids may be different, but adults with kids should be sent back.”