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Incursions of border by cops, troops rising
The CBP report also showed a jump in violence against U.S. border personnel, a trend that Mr. Easterling said is troubling.
Violence against CBP officers and agents is up 167 percent at ports of entry and 23 percent outside them, the report said.
“When we have people out there assaulting our agents, it is unacceptable,” he said.
In formerly hot sectors such as Yuma, Ariz. - where CBP agent Luis Aguilar was run over and killed by a smuggler last year - assaults were down 56 percent.
“At one point, one in three agents on shift would be assaulted on [a given] day,” Mr. Easterling said. “With rocks, or dirt clods or bottles, sticks, gunfire, what have you.”
But in other sectors, such as San Diego, assaults on officers jumped 46 percent. Officers are now being equipped with body armor, helmets, shields and “war wagons” that have cages over the windows.
“In … areas where smugglers have operated with impunity for several years, they’re trying to fight back to get us to leave the area,” Mr. Easterling said.
“But we’re continuing to go back to these places to let them know we’re resolute. We’re going to get our job done. They don’t like that,” he said.
The agency also reported a 25 percent drop in apprehensions of illegal border-jumpers for the year, a statistic that gauges migrants sneaking into the U.S. to find jobs.
T.J. Bonner, a 27-year Border Patrol veteran, attributes the drop in illegal border crossings to the recession.
“Our economy is doing so poorly, we’re bleeding jobs, and some of those jobs were held by illegal aliens,” said Mr. Bonner, who is president of the National Border Patrol Council, a union that represents all non-supervisory agents.
Mr. Bonner’s organization has long argued that if illegal migrants were blocked from gaining employment in the United States, fewer would come. That, in turn, would allow the Border Patrol to focus on more important work, such as stopping drug shipments, criminals and potential terrorists.
“Our efficiency in apprehending drugs coming across has shot up dramatically. We’ve seen a 50 percent increase in drug seizures,” Mr. Bonner said.
He also said the problem of border violence and incursions by Mexican authorities is getting worse.
“The violence along the border is much like a tube of toothpaste: Squeeze in one part, it bulges out in another. This is one of the reasons numbers have dropped in Yuma and jumped in San Diego, Mr. Bonner said.
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