A union representative for Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley is criticizing U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske in the wake of a use of force report that indicates agents needed to resort to physical force less so far this year than in 2014. Agents aren't getting the training that they need, the representative said, and the drop in use of force instances has come from agents in the field, not policy changes.
Kerlikowske, for his part, is crediting the drop in use of force to the policies and training he has promised since he took over as commissioner in March of 2014. Chris Cabrera, the Border Patrol union spokesman, said that the agents had seen little changes since then and that the high number of crossings keeps them from having the time to go through training, according to KRGV 5, a Rio Grande Valley, Texas, ABC affiliate.
“We personally don't see what all the commotion is about,” Cabrera said. “Coming from him that he did something great, he didn't do anything. It's in the field. Being professionals and hard workers… that's what it boils down to.”
There have been 269 fewer instances where Border Patrol agents have used force to detain immigrants crossing the border so far this year compared to 2014, according to CBP data. If that holds, then it will be the second year in a row that that number has dropped.
While Kerlikowske and Cabrera place the credit in different places for those drops, there are signs that the rate of immigration has reportedly been dropping, potentially because of increased security at the border. Together, the administrations of Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush have doubled the Border patrol's size and spent billions of dollars on drones, sensors and technology to catch immigrants as they cross the border.