Local News

May 29, 2013 8:29 PM by Andrew Ellison - aellison@kristv.com

6 Investigates: Border Patrol Cuts

FALFURRIAS - The Border Patrol is facing major cutbacks due to sequestration. Believe it or not, they're having to limit fuel usage, which may limit how well agents can get their job done.

A group of everyday citizens that help monitor the border called the Texas Border Volunteers have noticed the decrease in presence.

Mike Vickers is the chairman of their board. He leads the group of roughly 300.

Their job is to observe and report illegal immigrants traveling through their lands as they try to avoid the Falfurrias check point and detection from the Border Patrol.

Vickers and his group work hard to locate illegal immigrants and call the Border Patrol to come get them.

But none of their work means anything if the Border Patrol isn't there to apprehend the people the volunteers find, and lately, they haven't been there nearly as much.

"These guys are doing a great job with the resources they have, but they're constantly eating away at their resources, and this is having an impact on our ability to get these people apprehended on private property," Vickers says.

Dwindling resources is a result of harsh budget cuts. Something Border Patrol Agent Chris Cabrera understands has to be done from time to time, but there's one cut he doesn't understand.

"The last thing you want to cut is fuel," Cabrera says.

Cabrera says over 500 illegal immigrants come through Brooks County every day, but cutting back on fuel means agents can't cover nearly as much ground as they used to, and the smugglers know it.

"They take advantage of our gaps," Cabrera says.

Less gas, means less units on the road, and the units that are can't travel as far as they used to.

The result is more traffic getting through and agents have less back up to help them in dangerous situations.

"They're choosing conservation of fuel over patrolling our areas and preventing entries into the United States," Cabrera says.

In a statement released to us, the Border Patrol Administration blamed the rationing on federal budget cuts, saying, "the effects of sequestration continue to have serious impacts no CBP's operations including nearly 600 million in cuts...".

As we followed Vickers on one of his checks, we actually spotted two illegal immigrants crossing his field.

Vickers went after them and called it in to the Border Patrol.

They actually responded quickly, they way they would like to respond every time if they had the resources, but the two got away.

The agents said the two likely got picked up as soon as they crossed the field and went to the park just across the highway.

In the end, cuts or no cuts, Vickers says he and the Texas Border Volunteers will continue to help the overwhelmed agents.

"We're going to continue doing it until the border is secure," Vickers says.

That could be a tall order if these cuts keep coming.

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