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    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    Border agents frustrated by influx of immigrant kids

    Union president says agents pulled from field to baby-sit and change diapers.

    David Nakamura
    | The Washington Post
    First Published 1 hour ago ē Updated 1 hour ago

    As the Obama administration scrambles to respond to an influx of unaccompanied minors across the Mexican border into Texas, the union that represents 16,500 border patrol officers has made its frustration clear.

    "New annual job rating areas: Babysitting, Diaper Changing, Burrito Wrapping, Cleaning cells. Law Enforcement? Whatís that? .lowmorale" the group wrote on its Twitter feed last weekend.

    The message, posted to the National Border Patrol Councilís Twitter account, was deleted after it was decried by immigrant advocates as racist. But the tweet reflected mounting concern among rank-and-file agents who have been yanked from patrol duty in high-risk border areas to process and care for tens of thousands of children, union officials said.

    "Nothing in there was racist," union president Brandon Judd said in an interview, referring to the tweet. "All he was trying to emphasize is that we canít do our jobs. Forty percent of our agents have been pulled from the field to babysit, clean cells, change diapers. Weíre actually making burritos. Thatís not our job. Our job is to protect the border."

    The unionís growing criticism of the administrationís border policies has added another sharp voice to the immigration debate in Washington, where the crisis has become the latest flash point between the two political parties. Administration officials Friday announced new measures to strengthen its border policies to stem the flow of migrants, most of whom are from Central America and have crossed through the Rio Grande Valley in recent months without their parents.

    In recent weeks, Democrats have pointed to images of the children sleeping in crowded holding rooms to emphasize the humanitarian costs of border policies that have left millions of undocumented immigrants in legal limbo. Republicans, meanwhile, have cited the crisis as evidence that President Barack Obama must drastically bolster border security to deter future waves of migrants from crossing illegally.

    The patrol agents have lent weight to the GOP argument, warning in congressional hearings and cable news shows that resources to combat drug and weapons trafficking have been diverted to handling the immigrant children. Judd told a House panel that the crisis is straining the border patrol "to the breaking point."

    Obama mobilized an emergency response earlier this month, directing the Department of Health and Human Services to provide care and shelter for the children and putting the Federal Emergency Management Agency in charge of coordinating the effort.

    Democratic lawmakers say the border agentsí hard-line views have emboldened their GOP counterparts, contributing to the difficulties of reaching a comprehensive immigration deal in the House.

    Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., who favors a less restrictive immigration policy, said border patrol agents are "trotted out as front-line people who know immigration and think we should have enforcement until there is zero tolerance and we shouldnít have reform. Theyíre beating the drum through members here and saying, ĎLook whatís happened with these kids. There are lax policies and not enough enforcement.í "

    http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/world/5...ation.html.csp
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