The Obama administration is moving to shut down nine Border Patrol stations across four states, triggering a backlash from local law enforcement, members of Congress and Border Patrol agents themselves.
Critics of the move warn the closures will undercut efforts to intercept drug and human traffickers in well-traveled corridors north of the U.S.-Mexico border. Though the affected stations are scattered throughout northern and central Texas, and three other states, the coverage areas still see plenty of illegal immigrant activity — one soon-to-be-shuttered station in Amarillo, Texas, is right in the middle of the I-40 corridor; another in Riverside, Calif., is outside Los Angeles.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection says it’s closing the stations in order to reassign agents to high-priority areas closer to the border.
“These deactivations are consistent with the strategic goal of securing America’s borders, and our objective of increasing and sustaining the certainty of arrest of those trying to enter our country illegally,” CBP spokesman Bill Brooks said in a statement. “By redeploying and reallocating resources at or near the border, CBP will maximize the effectiveness of its enforcement mandate and align our investments with our mission.”
But at least one Border Patrol supervisor in Texas has called on local officers to “voice your concerns” to elected officials, warning that the “deactivation” will remove agents from the Texas Panhandle, among other places. Several members of Congress have asked Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher to reconsider the plan. And local officials are getting worried about what will happen once the Border Patrol leaves town, since they rely on those federal officials to assist in making immigration arrests.
“It could impact us tremendously since we’ve only got two agents up here now for 26 counties,” Potter County Sheriff Brian Thomas told FoxNews.com.
Potter County, in the Texas Panhandle, would be affected by the planned closure of the Amarillo station.
Thomas said that while his area is far from the border, it’s still a major “corridor” for illegal immigrants — and he said his office depends on Border Patrol to respond to their calls.
“I can’t hold a carload of people out there on I-40 for eight hours while somebody comes from El Paso,” he said. “I mean, that’s just crazy.”
Border Patrol’s resident agent in charge in Amarillo expressed similar worries, in a recent memo to local law enforcement alerting them to the planned closure. The official, Robert Green, warned that the “entire complement” of two agents would be reassigned from Amarillo to somewhere closer to the border. He said “there is no active plan” right now for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to fill the void on assisting local officials with stops.
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