U.S. Border Patrol Agents were assaulted by immigrants illegally crossing the border on hundreds of occasions so far in fiscal year 2019, following a troubling trend in recent years that’s compelling officials to speak out.
“It’s unacceptable,” Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost told CBS 4.
— Sydney Hernandez (@SydneyKGBT) September 3, 2019
“Since the beginning of the year, more and more of our agents are getting assaulted,” Border Patrol agent and union vice president Chris Cabrera said.
“We do see it a lot, our guys get assaulted quite a bit, from punching them, a full on fist fight, pushing on them, spitting on them, it happens quite a bit,” Cabrera said. “It’s something we train for, we continue to train for, we’re always training for something like that, so we can go home to our families at the end of the night.”
So far in fiscal year 2019, Border Patrol agents have reported more than 600 assaults, a number that’s roughly in line with the 794 assaults agents reported in all of 2018. The year prior, it was 844.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection highlights some of the incidents throughout the year, but the vast majority are not reported to the public.
In July, CBP detailed two incidents that occurred within days of each other that proved the rigorous training agents receive is critical to keeping them alive.
In one incident, remote camera operators in the Yuma Sector located two illegal aliens running north from the border wall around 2 a.m. and a female agent responded to find them hiding in the brush. One of the men, a 31-year-old Mexican national, ignored the agent’s commands in Spanish and English and attempted to fight arrest to get away. The agent took an elbow to the ribs, but the man ultimately ended up in handcuffs, while the second subject scurried back to Mexico, CBP reports.
Two days later, on July 16, remote camera operators in San Luis located a group of immigrants who illegally crossed and alerted an agent, who apprehended a 22-year-old Honduran national. The agent was escorting the man to a vehicle when he attempted to fight arrest, which didn’t work out well for him.
The agent subdued the man until others officers arrived.
“Neither of the assaulted agents required medical attention and both completed their assigned shift,” according to CBP.
Cabrera recalled a similar situation when an agent was assaulted by two men attempting to avoid arrest.
“They actually fought for eight minutes and luckily the big guy ran way, but it took eight minutes for someone to get out there and help,” he told CBS 4. “Luckily, the agent was in tip-top shape and was able to hold him down until help arrived.”
One of the most harrowing attacks occurred just weeks ago, on Aug. 9, when agents in the Marine Riverine Unit came under fire while patrolling the Rio Grande River early in the morning.
“Agents saw four subjects with automatic weapons who shot over 50 rounds at them,” according to a CBP report. “The boat was hit several times but no one on board was injured.”
Those involved in the assaults and attacks are prosecuted whenever possible, officials said, though some of the crimes go unsolved. No arrests have been made in the river shooting, for example.
“One thing I do want to make perfectly clear, as a law enforcement community here in the Rio Grande Valley, we have absolutely zero tolerance for this kind of activity against law enforcement,” RGV deputy chief Austin Skero told CBS 4.