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National Border Patrol Council VP: Border Agents Need More Staffing To Help With Crisis

PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) - Border Patrol Agents are the men on the front lines having to deal with the children coming across our southern border.

One of their biggest concerns is the diseases that kids could bring with them. The agents have to check the immigrants for diseases, and if they have them, they could potentially get sick and bring the illness home to their families.

According to Shawn Moran, the vice president and spokesman for the National Border Patrol Council, scabies and lice are the two main infestations that his agents come across. He adds that chicken pox, measles, H1N1 and tuberculosis are also pretty common. Really, he says they see a whole gamete of diseases and that's what his men are most concerned with.

Moran tells KDKA Radio's Mike Pintek that there have been agents who have been hospitalized with respiratory illnesses that they believe came from their job. He says the agents understand going into the job that this is one of their responsibilities.

Shawn Moran (Part 1)

"Absolutely, I would almost guarantee that there are people that have been released that are sick and that are now in American society," said Moran.

So far, along the southern border there have been more than 60,000 unaccompanied minors that have come across the border, and 75 percent of them are coming from places other than Mexico.

Moran calls this a "failure of policy." He says the government continues to release them into society in hopes that they will return for their hearing, and a majority don't.

Moran says we are giving them what they want and the only ones to show up to these hearings are the ones confident enough to know that when they present their case, they'll be allowed to stay. This means that some immigrants may have a legitimate reason for coming, like fleeing from violence or poverty.

He also says the first thing they do when they arrest an immigrant is search that person, then fill out the form I-826. The immigrants are again searched by another agent when they are brought to the facility, and then placed into a holding cell to be processed. Processing can take anywhere between a few hours to a few days for the immigrant.

After they have been cleared of any diseases and are registered with the government, transportation comes to take them to a more permanent facility or some are released to a family member and will join the general population.

Shawn Moran (Part 2)

Moran concludes that if his agents could determine a solution for this problem they would say they need more staffing. He explains this border crisis is nothing new; he says he believes the government should have taken this first step to stop the continuing flood of immigrants.

"It blows my mind that that was not the first step that was taken. Our staffing was reduced about a year and a half ago when sequestration occurred because of budgetary problems and not having enough money to allocate the salaries, so they started to reduce the amount of time the agents could work, and that directly affected how much man-power we had in the field, and it continues to this day," said Moran. "You would think that in a border crisis you would have every border patrol agent out there working the full shift, but that's just not happening."

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