Border Patrol agents overwhelmingly support building President Donald Trump's proposed wall at the U.S.-Mexico border to stem the tide of illegal immigrants, the Washington Times reported, citing a new survey.
The National Border Patrol Council, the agents' union, conducted a survey of more than 600 agents in two of the busiest border sectors — and a whopping 89 percent said a “wall system in strategic locations is necessary to securing the border,” the Times reported, adding that only 7 percent of agents disagreed.
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The paper added that the new survey's findings "appear to undercut the argument of congressional Democrats, who released a report last month concluding that line agents didn’t support Mr. Trump’s plans for a wall. The report was based on an internal tool used by Homeland Security to evaluate security gaps."
Agents also indicated the government must change the “catch and release” policy, the Times said, citing the survey. The controversial practice involves releasing those arrested for illegally crossing the border with the understanding that they appear for hearings — and often don't show.
And an even higher percentage of surveyed agents — 95 percent — want "catch and release" changed, the paper reported.
More from the Times:
The White House held a press briefing Monday calling for changes to curtail catch-and-release. One official said courts have imposed a 20-day limit on holding families that have jumped the border — a virtual guarantee that those illegal immigrants will be released.
“We can’t possibly get a removal order within three weeks, which means we have to release [them] within 20 days,” the official said.
Another official said migrants have learned to game the asylum system by claiming fears of being sent back to their home countries. More than 80 percent of those seeking asylum are granted initial admission to the U.S., giving them a foothold in the country while they await court dates that can be delayed for five years.
The Trump administration demanded that those legal changes, on top of $25 billion more in funding for border security and the wall, be included in this year’s attempt to strike a deal on the DACA program for illegal immigrant Dreamers. Democrats balked at those demands, and none of the major immigration pieces ended up in the final bill.
Brandon Judd, the NBPC president who commissioned the new survey, called a March 22 Democratic report on border security — which indicated agents aren't in favor of a wall — "nothing more than political crap," the paper reported.
“I’m truly disgusted knowing that the taxpayers had to foot the bill for something that amounted to nothing more than a political hit piece against the president of the United States," Judd told the Times in regard to the Democratic report, adding that he wanted an investigation into how the report was written.
Laura Epstein, a spokeswoman for the Homeland Security Committee Democrats, told the paper the findings were based on data they received.
Ronald D. Vitiello, acting deputy commissioner for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said last week that agents want a wall as part of overall border security strategy, the Times reported.
“Our agents and officers have decades of experience, and they know their operational needs,” Vitiello said, the paper added.