MCALLEN, Texas — House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Mike McCaul said he’s “profoundly” alarmed at the impact the ongoing border crisis is having on Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents’ mental health.
The senior Republican spoke to Fox News Digital in the border city of McAllen, Texas, a bipartisan congressional delegation met with border and immigration officials while also touring facilities where migrants are brought and their asylum claims processed.
McCaul said the state of the border is “just worse” each time he’s seen it.
“Every time I come down here, it gets worse; the lack of detention space, the human tragedy you see here; what the Border Patrol has to deal with every day, day in and day out, looking at these migrants that are pouring in; this sense of hopelessness, that it won’t stop,” the Texas Republican said.
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House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul spoke with Fox News Digital in the border city of McAllen, Texas, over the weekend. (Elizabeth Elkind)
“Profoundly, I worry about the mental health of our border patrol. The suicide rate is going up. They don’t have the proper resources.”
Seventeen CBP agents died by suicide in 2022 alone, Chris Cabrera, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, told Congress in March 2023. That’s the highest number since CBP began tracking it in 2007. There were 19,357 CPB agents on the job in 2022.
Since then, the number of migrant encounters at the border has continued to see historic highs, most recently this past December, while CBP has struggled somewhat to replenish its retiring forces.
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A Border Patrol union official said these discarded ladders were used by migrants to scale a 15-foot wall on the border just feet from where this photo was taken. (Fox News Digital)
McCaul said the cartels on the other side of the border that are bringing a constant flow of drug and human trafficking are better equipped, in some ways, than the federal officials patrolling on the U.S. side.
“For instance, we only have 20 drones here in the Rio Grande Valley sector, and the cartels are way out numbering us. And that’s just eyes and ears on the ground,” McCaul said. “So, we’re not equipping them. But most importantly, more than money, is just the lack of policy.”
Cabrera spoke to the media during his recent border visit, describing what he said were regular instances of officers getting overwhelmed.
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A hole in a fence near the U.S.-Mexico border is what National Border Patrol Council spokesperson Chris Cabrera said migrants would use after entering the U.S. illegally. (Elizabeth Elkind)
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“There’s times when you’re out there, two, three agents, and you’ll have 100 people there,” he said.
“But then you also have the medical emergencies: pregnant women, dehydration, kids with illnesses, people that have broken legs along the journey. And then we have people that fall off the wall. So, while we’re dealing with two, three hundred people, or 50 people, you’re also having to deal with medical emergencies and issues like that.”