The number of arrests made at the border of people from Afghanistan and Pakistan is up significantly this year compared to last, the president of the National Border Patrol Council said when he testified during a House hearing on Tuesday.
Brandon Judd, who has also served as a Border Patrol agent for nearly 20 years, also told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on National Security that he has witnessed U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials fudge alien apprehension statistics by low-balling the number of “got aways” — illegal border-crossers who enter the country but avoid being apprehended by border agents.
Judd began by denying what he says is the Obama administration’s claim that “the border is more secure today than it’s ever been.”
“As a Border Patrol Agent, I will tell you the exact opposite,” Judd said.
The Obama administration fails “to give the American public key indicators such as the number of arrests of persons from countries with known terrorist ties or from countries that compete economically with our interests,” he added.
To support his claim, Judd pointed to statistics showing that in all of fiscal year 2015, Border Patrol arrested five people from Afghanistan, 57 from Pakistan and 1,327 from China.
But that number has surged this year, according to Judd.
“Already in the first five months of this fiscal year, the United States Border Patrol has arrested 18 from Afghanistan…79 from Pakistan and 619 from the Peoples Republic of China,” the union chief said.
“Those numbers should alarm everyone and we are seeing a similar trend from other key countries like Albania, Bangladesh and Brazil,” he continued.
Judd also pointed to what he said is evidence that drug cartels “are winning.”
He said that during a visit to a station in the Del Rio Border Patrol sector in south Texas, resource-strapped agents were only able to arrest 47 percent of known border-crossers.
He said that out of 157 known entries that week, 74 were arrested, 54 evaded arrest and entered the U.S., 17 evaded arrest and returned to Mexico, and 12 were still unaccounted for.
“That’s a 47 percent arrest rate,” said Judd. “That’s not very good.”
He also highlighted the gaps in border security by citing an email he received on Tuesday from a Border Patrol agent in Arizona pointing to a 10-mile stretch of the border that was unmanned for two days.
“Criminal cartels were able to go to the fence, cut a hole in the fence, drive two vehicles through that hole and escape. They were able then to put the fence back up and try to hide the cuts that were made,” Judd said.
“The scariest part of those vehicles entering the United States is we don’t know what was in those vehicles,” he explained. And of the border-crossers who have not been apprehended, Judd said “we don’t know where they were from.”
Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis, who chairs the national security subcommittee, also asked Judd whether CBP “might be fudging” its apprehension data.
“Not only have I heard similar reports, I’ve actually seen it,” Judd said, recalling a previous stint as an intelligence officer working at a station on the southern border.
He said he received a note from a high-ranking watch commander ordering him to remove numbers from a “got-away” report.“There’s no entry point, and therefore if there’s no entry point then we can’t say where they entered and therefore we can’t reconcile the numbers,” Judd said, recalling the commander’s rationale.
“The question that was posed to this watch commander was ‘well, we know that they got away, where are we going to report that they got away?'” Judd said. “He says, ‘well, if there was no entry point there were no got-aways.'”
“And we said, ‘but we have the evidence that they got away,'” Judd continued. “He says ‘Nope, there’s no got-aways, remove it.'”