COVID Takes a Deadly Toll on Border Patrol

This year is already the deadliest on record for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel, due to COVID-19 and illegal aliens.

The McAllen (Texas) Monitor reported this month that 10 CBP officers have died since March as a result of contracting coronavirus. No other year had more than seven line-of-duty fatalities, according to CBP records dating back to 2003.

Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of CBP, warned that Illegal border crossers are “putting every agent’s life at risk.” He said “several hundred” CBP officers have tested positive for COVID after contacts with migrants.

At an Aug. 6 teleconference, Morgan said filthy stash houses and crowded tractor-trailers have become “perfect incubators for COVID-19.” “[Illegal aliens are] traveling through COVID hotspots inside Mexico, a country whose COVID cases and deaths continue to rise. Even though some of the illegal aliens know, or highly suspect, that they have COVID, they’re still coming.”

In April, FAIR reported that CBP was using expedited deportation procedures to return illegal border crossers back to Mexico in an average of 96 minutes. But Morgan noted that even fleeting contact “endangers the lives of CBP personnel and their families. A single COVID illegal alien could infect hundreds of other illegal aliens, as well as our workforce.”

As for illegal aliens who evade apprehension, Morgan said, “They don’t just remain in the border towns and cities. It’s not about migrants risking their lives any longer. It’s way beyond that. Now they’re risking the lives of everyone they come in contact with.”

Some of the contact happens during CBP’s humanitarian work. So far this fiscal year, CBP agents have rescued more than 3,900 injured or incapacitated illegal aliens. While treated at hospitals, at least 60 migrants tested positive for COVID, Morgan said. The number is probably higher, as the agency is not always notified of the results.

The CBP chief concluded with an appeal to anyone looking to enter the U.S. illegally: “Heed the warnings of your own countries with respect to travel restrictions. Heed the warnings of the medical experts that are saying this is not appropriate behavior. You’re risking everybody’s life.” 

Truer now than ever.

About Author


Bob Dane, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s Executive Director, has been with FAIR since 2006. His deep belief is that immigration is the most transformational determinant of where we are heading as a nation and that our policies must be reformed in the public interest. Over many years on thousands of radio, TV and print interviews, Bob has made the case that unless immigration is regulated and sensibly reduced, it will be difficult for America to reduce unemployment, increase wages, improve health care and education and heighten national security. Prior to joining FAIR, Bob spent twenty years in network radio, marketing and communications after an earlier career in policy and budgeting within the Reagan Administration. Bob has a degree from George Mason University in Public Administration and Management.

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