A strained U.S. Border Patrol is getting increased attention from the Biden administration after tense meetings between senior officials and the rank-and-file as the agency deals with one of the largest spikes in migration along the U.S.-Mexico border in decades, the Associated Press reports. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who oversees the Border Patrol, laid out 19 ways to address working conditions after frosty receptions by agents, said Chris Magnus, the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection. Efforts to deal with working conditions for agents come as President Biden has been criticized across the political spectrum over immigration. He has sought to reverse hardcore policies of his predecessor but has come under fire over border issues that could cause trouble for Democrats in the midterm elections.
CBP encountered migrants from around the world about 1.7 million times along the U.S.-Mexico border last year. The total is inflated by repeated apprehensions of people who were turned away, without being given a chance to seek asylum, under a public health order issued at the start of the pandemic. The administration has sought to address the cause of migration, including by increasing aid to Central America and re-starting a visa program that was ended under President Trump. Border agents met late last month with Mayorkas and Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz, who acknowledged morale was at an “all-time low.” One agent complained about “doing nothing” except releasing people into the U.S., referring to the practice of allowing migrants to remain free while their cases wind through immigration court.