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EXCLUSIVE: Overwhelmed Northern Border Agents Are ‘Counting Down The Days Until Retirement,’ Union Chief Says

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Jennie Taer Investigative Reporter
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CHAMPLAIN, New York — Border Patrol agents stationed along the northern border with Canada are counting down the days until they can retire because of a record surge in illegal migration, the president of the National Border Patrol Council for the Swanton sector Sean Walsh told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The Border Patrol’s Swanton sector, which is experiencing a large surge, spans 295 miles with limited to no physical barriers in most areas. The sector has seen an 845% surge in migrant encounters in January, when there were 367 apprehensions, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: ‘It Hasn’t Stopped’: The Northern Border Is Wide Open And People Are Funneling Across)

The surge has made it more difficult to perform the duties of securing the border, overwhelming the few agents up north. It is also considered the longest shared border in the world.

“They’re counting down the days until retirement,” Walsh told the DCNF.

Jennie Taer//Daily Caller News Foundation

Jennie Taer//Daily Caller News Foundation

There are roughly 2,200 Border Patrol agents stationed along the entire northern border out of the nearly 20,000 total agents patrolling all U.S. borders, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Some of the agents at the northern border, however, have been deployed to support the surge of millions of migrants coming across the southern border.

“Now, they’re just working nonstop in the office processing. Their number one priority is the safety of the American public and the security of the borders. Right now, they’re not able to complete that mission and they know it,” Walsh said.

In the Swanton sector, the patrols and processing of illegal migrants in the area, along with the deployments to the southern border, have broken the agents, a Border Patrol wife, who requested anonymity due to her husband’s job, told the DCNF.

“There’s a huge morale problem here because for two years they’re sent away for a month at a time. Agents are missing birthdays, anniversaries, all kinds of things, and it’s hard on marriages,” the agent’s wife told the DCNF.

“He used to love his job. He’d come home, he’d talk about it happily. Now he comes home defeated,” she said, adding, “He has a countdown on his phone for when he retires. He was going to go as many years as possible; now he’s going to leave as soon as he can.”

Northern border agents currently on the force feel their mission to secure the area has changed as they release many illegal migrants into the country with court dates.

“We feel like we’ve been betrayed by the people who are supposed to be on our side. We’re all dedicated people who seriously believe in what we do and now it seems like we’re being forced to go against our morals and do what we know is wrong. It’s hard to look in the mirror knowing that I’m being told to basically surrender,” one agent stationed along the northern border, who requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly, told the DCNF.

Much attention has been paid to the southern border, where agents have expressed issues with morale and a record illegal migration surge for years. The effects have been dire, leading to more suicides among the force.

Three agents died by suicide during a two-week period in the month of November.

DHS is trying to incentivize new recruits. The latest sign-on bonus amounts to between $10,000 and $20,000 for new agents.

DHS didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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