Border Patrol agents stationed at the southern border are effectively working as “professional child care providers” — ordering baby wipes and warming up burritos — for thousands of unaccompanied alien children, the new chief of U.S. Border Patrol told the Senate on Wednesday.
That workload has put a strain on the Border Patrol’s ability to protect national security and conduct law enforcement tasks, Chief Mark Morgan told the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
“A lot of resources are dedicated to being professional child care providers at this point,” Morgan said during Wednesday’s hearing.
The influx of unaccompanied alien children — or UACs — is so large that a second processing center had to be opened in the Rio Grande sector, Morgan said.
“Each one of those processing centers takes about 100 to 120 agents to man, dedicated basically 100 percent to processing and taking care of the family units and UACs,” he testified.
The number of UACs who crossed the southern border this year nearly reached 2014’s all-time high. The number of family units that have been apprehended has surpassed 2014 levels.
Morgan shared examples from agents he talked to in the Rio Grande sector.
He said that one agent told him during a recent visit, “You know, Chief, we’re going to do whatever this country asks us to do, but I never thought in my 20 years that I would be, as part of the procurement, ordering baby powder and baby wipes.”
Morgan added that another job that agents are required to do is to “actually make sure that the food– the burritos that were provided are being warmed properly.”
“It takes a tremendous amount of resources to do this,” Morgan said.
Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, the chair of the Homeland Security Committee, then asked Morgan if the focus on child care has cut into the work that the Border Patrol is supposed to do to protect national security interests.
Morgan said that it does and that drug smugglers have also exploited the situation to further their illicit trade.
“I’m comfortable in saying…that the humanitarian mission with the UACs and family units, it is impacting our ability to perform, I think, our national security/law enforcement mission,” Morgan said.
“I am taking a considerable amount of resources and agents from away from the border to take care of this.”