WASHINGTON—Fourteen Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents who worked at the southern border committed suicide this year, according to members of Congress.
The Republican and Democrat lawmakers released the grim, and growing, tally during a press conference on Dec. 7 at the House Triangle.
Between 2007 and November 2022, a total of 149 CBP agents located at the U.S. southern border took their lives.
CBP agents are exposed to traumatic experiences that affect their lives, said the lawmakers, noting that it’s common for law enforcement officers to keep their mental health needs to themselves.
CBP agents feel abandoned by the current administration, Rep. Mayra Flores (R-Texas) said, referring to President Joe Biden’s recent remarks.
Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) said, “While in Washington, there’s a lot that divides us in policy and often drives us in a lot of different directions, but there are a lot of things that should unite us.”
During the 2022 fiscal year, $23 million has been allocated to the mental health of CBP agents, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) said, adding that the same budget for the 2023 fiscal year will be the same.
The Taking Action to Prevent Suicide (TAPS) Act would allow CBP agents to freely speak with health care professionals without fear of losing their jobs as well as increase the number of local behavioral health specialists with the expertise to provide psychological assistance to CBP officers.
If there are no health care experts in the agency, Cuellar said, the government should work with local organizations to provide what the CBP agents need for their mental health.
“Until we take out the fear of law enforcement coming forward and talking about their mental health issues, they’re never going to do it,” said Brandon Judd, president of the Border Patrol Union.There needs to be more than a friendly social worker, said Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.). CBP agents should have health care personnel trained to guide them through traumatic experiences when necessary, she added.
“We all know that our immigration system is fully broken. It is working for no one. Therefore, the folks who are manning the southern border are bearing the brunt of our failed policies,” Slotkin said.The Epoch Times previously obtained data indicating that CBP captured 209,664 illegal aliens along the southern border in October.
Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.), said that CBP’s southern agents need more advanced technology, such as sensor towers and refugee processing facilities. Soto supports Biden’s proposed homeland security budget “to keep our homeland safe and respect international refugee laws.”
“While many of us may have disagreements on border solutions, both here and across Congress, we still have to come together, find common ground, find solutions like the TAPS Act because our Border Protection officers deserve nothing less for protecting our homeland,” Soto told the press.