Although disagreements over the issue have forced the federal government to shut down there are those like this CPB agent willing to sacrifice pay if it eventually means getting a wall built on the US-Mexico border.
As of Monday, the government has been partially closed for 24 days, two days more than the previous record set during the Clinton administration in the 1990s. About 800,000 federal workers have either been sent home or forced to work without pay since the shutdown began on December 22.
"It’s just mind blowing how certain politicians can argue this is not a crisis," said the agent who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "Laws need to be changed, and I won’t speak on behalf of every agent because we all have different stands and views. From everything I have seen and dealt with, I support the furlough. I’m not getting paid I know that, but this [laws] needs to be fixed."
The agent explained that he has put all politics aside when backing Trump's package for strengthening border security, emphasizing that it is much more than just about the wall.
Aside from seeking funds for a border wall, the Trump administration's proposal to Congress includes "cutting-edge" technology for detecting drugs, weapons, and other illegal contraband. The proposal also requests more CBP agents, immigration judges, and bed space to process the sharp rise in unlawful migration. The plan also contains an urgent request for humanitarian assistance and medical support.
In addition, the administration is asking Congress to close border security loopholes so that illegal immigrant children can be safely and humanely returned home.
There has been a high volume of asylum seekers arriving at the US border for years now, the agent pointed out. He said hundreds of agents were being sent to the Rio Grande Valley to help process the asylum-seeking migrants.
The agent emphasized that regular residents opposing Trump's border security proposal have not seen the situation on the ground in order to grasp the reality of the crisis.
"From apprehending illegal aliens at the border, transport to a station, to feed them, to then transport the ill to a local hospital, transport back to a station, then due to the overwhelming people in custody at that station they need to be transported to a different station," the agent said. "Once that is situated the paperwork begins, about 2 to 3 hours of paperwork per person. They remain in a cell that is extremely over crowded for days. That’s not what we want as agents/officers we know those are terrible conditions, but we manage and treat these people as people as best as we can."
CBP is dealing with staff shortages as it confronts the demand on the border, which has complicated their work and has stretched them thin, the agent said.
"We are human and not just federal employees, our immigration system needs a lot of change," he said.
For now, the agent said his family has enough savings for financial emergencies such as the shutdown. He highlights that all federal employees should be aware of the chances of a government shutdown occurring and should manage their finances in preparation for such event.
"Fortunately for my wife and I, we have plenty in savings for financial emergencies such as this one," the agent said. "Once that runs out, then it’s concerning, but overall I believe honestly this is being done for the greater good."
The president has hinted that he could declare a national emergency in order to secure funds to build a wall along the border with Mexico, though he has said he would prefer to reach a deal with Congress on the matter.