The Cable

Border Patrol Union: U.S. Lives Are at Stake, So We’re Backing Trump

But by many measures, the U.S.-Mexico border is as secure as it’s ever been.

LAREDO, TEXAS - JULY 23: Republican Presidential candidate and business mogul Donald Trump talks to the media at a press conference during his trip to the border on July 23, 2015 in Laredo, Texas. Trump's recent comments, calling some immigrants from Mexico as drug traffickers and rapists, have stirred up reactions on both sides of the aisle. Although fellow Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry has denounced Trump's comments and his campaign in general, U.S. Senator from Texas Ted-Cruz has so far refused to bash his fellow Republican nominee. (Photo by Matthew Busch/Getty Images)
LAREDO, TEXAS - JULY 23: Republican Presidential candidate and business mogul Donald Trump talks to the media at a press conference during his trip to the border on July 23, 2015 in Laredo, Texas. Trump's recent comments, calling some immigrants from Mexico as drug traffickers and rapists, have stirred up reactions on both sides of the aisle. Although fellow Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry has denounced Trump's comments and his campaign in general, U.S. Senator from Texas Ted-Cruz has so far refused to bash his fellow Republican nominee. (Photo by Matthew Busch/Getty Images)

In its first-ever presidential primary endorsement, a union representing 16,500 U.S. Border Patrol said Wednesday that it is backing Donald Trump because he is the only candidate who will protect American communities from “gangs, cartels and violent criminals preying on the innocent.”

The endorsement from the National Border Patrol Council comes even though statistics show that the U.S.-Mexico border is, by many measures, as secure as it’s ever been.

In a statement announcing its support for Trump, the union said “the lives and security of the American people are at stake, and the National Border Patrol Council will not sit on the sidelines.”

The move isn’t a total surprise: the NBPC and other law enforcement groups have long criticized the Obama administration for what it says is selective enforcement of immigration law by targeting violent criminals for deportation and granting reprieve to other groups, such as undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. In backing Trump, NBPC is breaking with its own umbrella organization, the American Federation of Government Employees, which endorsed Democrat Hillary Clinton last December.

The union’s criticism of the administration’s immigration policy echoes that of Trump himself, who kicked off his campaign by calling Mexicans who come to the U.S. “rapists,” called for building a longer wall on the border with Mexico, and promised to deport many of the some 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States. The union said the backlash against Trump for his immigration comments was evidence of “corruption in Washington.”

The NBPC’s harsh rhetoric, however, masks a truth that both the union and Trump seem reluctant to acknowledge: illegal migration has neared record lows during the Obama years while deportations have reached record highs.

In 2000, more than 1.6 million people were caught trying to cross into the United States, according to Department of Homeland Security statistics. The figure has since fallen to below 400,000 per year. President Barack Obama, meanwhile, has deported more than 2.5 million people during his two terms, substantially more than had been sent home during the George W. Bush years.

Chris Wilson, the deputy director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said border cities like El Paso, Texas, and San Diego, Calif., are among the safest cities of their size in the U.S. and that border cities of any size are often at or below the average for violent crime in comparatively sized American cities.

“There still is an issue, but the border is more secure in terms of migration than it has been in decades,” he said, noting that the number of immigrants stopped or caught after crossing the U.S-Mexico border is near a 30- to 40-year low.

Wilson said that the U.S. has begun to reach the point of diminishing returns when it comes to increased security spending and more border patrol boots on the border. In the final budget proposal of his presidency, for instance, Obama called for giving DHS $347.5 million to hire 100 more officers for a program designed to catch and deport illegal immigrants. But Wilson said that in some places along the U.S. southern border agents stop and send back only a handful of undocumented immigrants each year.

“If you build more and more walls, hire more and more border patrol agents to stop the flow of migrants through the border, you have to ask yourself the question as a country: How much am I willing to spend to stop each additional person?” Wilson said. “It goes up and up and up.”

The union, not surprisingly, has a very different assessment of the current situation at the border. In its statement, the NBPC accused political leaders of trying “to keep us from doing our jobs,” and sought to compare GOP Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s experience with that of Obama as a candidate in 2008.

“America has already tried a young, articulate freshman senator who never created a job as an attorney and under whose watch criminal cartels have been given the freest border reign ever known,” the union said.

Photo Credit: MATTHEW BUSCH / Stringer

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