Border Agents' Union: More Boots Needed on the Ground

At a union meeting in San Diego, agents complained of the need for simple things like backup agents and medical supplies for those officers exposed to scabies and other infections

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    NBC 7
    A U.S. Customs and Border Protection official follows a young mother and her child as the two enter the Chula Vista station located in San Ysidro, California.

    Agents and officials with the San Diego sector of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection hope some of the $3.7 billion requested in emergency immigration funds will trickle down to them.

    After three waves of Central American undocumented immigrants have been flown into San Diego, caring for the women and children has proven to be taxing on agents, union representative Gabe Pacheco told NBC 7.

    “We are spread thin,“ Pacheco said Tuesday.

    At least $433 million is being requested by the Obama administration to step up border enforcement and drone surveillance.

    But with more than 400 women and children who've already flown through San Diego’s Lindbergh Field to be processed at area CBP facilities, Pacheco said forget the drones. Boots on ground is what's needed.

    “I'm not saying another 20,000, but we need more on the ground to fill places where they’re being reassigned. For the ones that are babysitting you need someone out there taking their place,“ he said.

    Agents complained about needing simple things like bleach and alcohol to help clean up and fight infections when the union met Tuesday night at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Mission Valley.

    Pacheco said that’s why they’re also hoping funding will go towards providing special safety suits.

    Officials confirmed one agent contracted scabies after coming in contact with undocumented
    immigrants being moved from Texas to Southern California.

    The wave of undocumented immigrants transferred to San Diego began July 1 and is scheduled to continue with planes arriving every third day.

    Relocating the women and children has been part of the federal government's plan for dealing with a recent surge of unaccompanied minors arriving to the U.S. from poor and violence-stricken countries in Central America.

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