SAN ANTONIO — Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Ronald Vitiello on Tuesday said federal law enforcement on the southern border have in recent months been overwhelmed processing families — and that strain in resources may be allowing other people to sneak into the U.S. Vitiello said families are “distracting” border and immigration cops from “other parts of the mission.” Last Saturday, Border Patrol agents working an immigration checkpoint on a highway 70 miles north of McAllen, Texas, found 15 Chinese citizens in the back of a tractor trailer. “These Chinese nationals may have been apprehended at the border itself,” Vitiello told reporters at the Border Security Expo. CBP estimates its agents spent more than 49,000 hours facilitating medical trips and watching patients while they are in hospitals from late December through late February. The loss of agents working in law enforcement roles was equivalent to losing 25 Border Patrol agents for an entire year. Part of the issue for Border Patrol is the need to transport people who arrive in remote regions of the U.S.-Mexico border. For example, the closest Border Patrol station to Antelope Wells, N.M., where more than a dozen groups of 100 people or more have arrived since October, is located 95 miles north in Lordsburg, N.M. All migrants who show up in Antelope Wells — where just one agent is based — must be transported by border agents to Lordsburg, as well as undergo medical screenings. The chief’s other concern was about the “potential threat… [Read full story]
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