The head of the U.S. Border Patrol testified that the size of his agency is nearly 20 percent smaller than the White House claims.
Border Patrol chief Raul Ortiz said he oversees a force of roughly 19,000 during testimony at a special House Homeland Security Committee hearing in McAllen, Texas. That number stands in contrast to statements from the White House, which regularly touts the “more than 23,000” Border Patrol agents deployed to secure the southern border.
Ortiz, who told Congress Wednesday he needs “more officers on the front lines,” said he’d need at least 22,000 agents to secure the out-of-control border crisis. “Right now, I have 19,016. My requirement is 22,000 Border Patrol agents,” Ortiz said. “Until I can get there, I’m going to require assistance from other agencies. But right now, for me, my priority is doing everything I can to add more personnel to my ranks, so we can make sure that Border Patrol agents are out there doing that job.”
Neither the White House nor Customs and Border Protection responded to a request for comment on the discrepancy.
Just this month, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said there are “23,000 federal agents” at the border, crediting the large force for securing the border and falsely claiming it has shut down the flow of fentanyl into the United States. A March 9 White House “fact sheet” said the White House “deployed the most agents ever—more than 23,000—to address the situation at the border.” And in December, Jean-Pierre said Biden “secured historic funding” in order to place “23,000 border security agents at the border … the most that we’ve ever had.”