Caring for ill migrants cuts into Border Patrol resources in Arizona

Mar 28, 2019, 4:12 AM
(Getty Images Photo/John Moore)...
(Getty Images Photo/John Moore)
(Getty Images Photo/John Moore)

PHOENIX – A Border Patrol official in southwest Arizona said tending to ill migrants who entered the country illegally is diverting vital resources from the agency’s security mission.

“They are human beings just like all the rest of us,” Carl Landrum, deputy chief patrol agent for the sector, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday.

“We have to make sure that they’re OK, and in order to do that we’re having to pay for that out of our border security budget.”

Landrum said his agents are apprehending approximately 300 people per day.

He said about 95 percent of them come from countries other than Mexico, including people from nine countries in the last week alone.

“Literally every single person that is brought into custody via the United States Border Patrol here in Yuma Sector is medically screened and treated, if any treatment is necessary,” Landrum said.

People needing medical help beyond what can be provided at initial screenings are transferred to the Yuma Regional Medical Center, which takes agents off the front lines.

Landrum said his agents spent approximately 11,000 hours in the last fiscal year at the hospital, which is located about 20 miles north of the border.

“That’s 11,000 hours our agents were not on the border providing border security and national security,” he said.

The Yuma Sector patrols 126 miles of border between the Yuma-Pima County line in Arizona and the Imperial Sand Dunes in California. It is responsible for Yuma, La Paz and Mojave counties in Arizona, parts of California and all of Nevada.

According to government statistics, 17,578 family units and 2,760 unaccompanied minors were apprehended in the Yuma Sector between October and February.

That’s a 230 percent increase in families and 36 percent increase in minors for the same time a year ago. The increases have been even higher, especially for family units, at other sectors throughout the border states.

Four migrants have died while in custody since December, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

With no funds budgeted for the humanitarian aspect of the Border Patrol’s work, Landrum said the situation is, as President Donald Trump has argued, a national emergency.

“I think … the public really doesn’t get to see a lot of what’s happening, but for all of us that are down here, working in it, living in it every single day, this is a national emergency that needs to be addressed,” he said.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Peter Samore contributed to this report.

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Caring for ill migrants cuts into Border Patrol resources in Arizona