The Customs and Border Protection is an agency whose members were ardent supporters of Donald Trump in the last election. So it should be no surprise that it too plays fast and loose with the facts to advance Trump’s and their agenda by trying to portray undocumented immigrants in the worst possible light in order to deflect attention from their harsh treatment of them. Debbie Nathan exposes the latest CBP attempt to further the Trump agenda of hyping hatred against undocumented immigrants by inflating statistics about the number of border patrol agents assaulted by them.
She starts out by showing how the CBP puts out lurid stories without any evidence behind them.
LAST NOVEMBER, REPORTS that a pair of U.S. Border Patrol agents had been attacked with rocks at a desolate spot in West Texas made news around the country. The agents were found injured and unconscious at the bottom of a culvert off Interstate 10. Agent Rogelio Martinez soon died from his injuries. Early reports in right-wing media outlets such as Breitbart suggested that the perpetrators were undocumented immigrants, and President Donald Trump quickly embraced the narrative to bolster his campaign for a border wall.
To people familiar with the harsh terrain and the habits of undocumented border crossers, however, the news made little sense. Why would immigrants seeking entry to the U.S. hang out in the middle of nowhere, miles from the border, waiting to randomly attack law enforcement officers?
It was four months before the FBI concluded its investigation and determined that the most likely cause of Martinez’s death was an accidental fall. Meanwhile, media outlets across the political spectrum repeated statistics showing a sharp upward trend in the number of assaults against Border Patrol agents even as the number of undocumented immigrants apprehended while crossing the southern border has dropped.
She then shows how the CBP manipulates numbers to highly inflate the number of incidents, to make it appear that the border is an extremely dangerous place and that the agents are at constant risk of death and injury.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data, assaults on Border Patrol officers increased dramatically in fiscal year 2016, reversing a long downward trend. That year, CBP claims, there were 454 assaults on agents nationwide, compared with 378 in fiscal year 2015, a 20 percent increase. The increase from 2016 to 2017 was even more surprising. In 2017, according to CBP, there were 786 assaults, a spike of 73 percent, even as apprehensions fell from 415,816 to 310,532.
Almost the entire increase — 271 purported assaults — was said to have occurred in one sector, the Rio Grande Valley, in South Texas. A large number of the assaults supposedly occurred on a single day, according to charts and details provided by Christiana Coleman, a CBP public affairs spokesperson. In response to questions from The Intercept, Coleman explained in an email that “an incident in the Rio Grande Valley Sector on February 14, 2017, involved seven U.S. Border Patrol Agents assaulted by six subjects utilizing three different types of projectiles (rocks, bottles, and tree branches), totaling 126 assaults.”
According to conventional law enforcement accounting, this single incident should have been tallied as seven agents assaulted — not seven agents times six perpetrators times three projectiles. Subtracting the seven agents from 126 leaves 119 extra “assaults” that falsely and grossly inflate the data, making it appear to the public that far more agents were assaulted.
Nathan says that in 2014, the CBO rolled out a new ‘accounting system’ that enabled them to inflate the figures and made the situation look far worse than it was.
Rather than a picture of increasing violence against Border Patrol agents, what emerges from the FBI’s data is that the Border Patrol’s job has never been safer. The decrease was so significant that by 2016, according to FBI statistics, Border Patrol agents were about five times less likely to be assaulted than officers in local police departments — and only half as likelyto be killed on the job by homicide or by accident. As the Cato Institute observed in November, “Regular Americans are more than twice as likely to be murdered in any year from 2003 through 2017 than Border Patrol agents were.” But even as Border Patrol work was getting safer, the agency began manipulating its data to claim increasing danger and advance a political agenda.
The CBP already has a well-documented history of abusive behavior towards even those who are legally here and I have posted about many such instances in the past. The fact that they are willing to lie and exaggerate to advance their own agenda should come as no surprise.