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Border officials say the wall is working, drug smuggling shifting to the sea

Posted at 5:43 PM, Nov 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-01 21:15:28-04

SAN YSIDRO, Calif. (KGTV) - Border officials highlighted their accomplishments Friday, saying the past year has hit some benchmarks.

"The past year has taken a tremendous toll on our agency, our agents and their families," Kathleen Scudder, Acting Chief Patrol Agent for the San Diego Sector said, referring to the thousands of migrants who traveled to the U.S.-Mexico Border in San Diego County.

While a nearly 14-mile stretch of new bollard fencing was completed in August, from the beach to Otay Mountain, officials said their agents faced more attacks compared to the previous fiscal year.

"There were a total of 156 assaults on agents while performing their duties, agents endured 72 assaults the prior fiscal year," Scudder said.

While arrests at the border have been down the last six months, drug smuggling has shifted to the water, Scudder said. Agents seized 3,273 pounds of marijuana, 1,284 pounds of cocaine, 3,918 pounds of methamphetamine, 288 pounds of heroin and 108 pounds of fentanyl "that could provide a fatal dose to 24 million people."

Customs and Border Protection Agents shifted their role over the past year, providing much needed humanitarian aid for migrants from caravans.

While agents faced national scrutiny for their treatment of migrants, Scudder described a show of kindness.

"Our agents persevered, often bringing items from their homes to care for small children and babies in their custody," she said.

She described an act of heroism where an agent found two boys who were lost near Chula Vista. He found one of the boys unconscious, suffering from hypothermia. He wrapped the boy in his coat and hugged him, to provide body warmth until help arrived. The boy recovered and went home six weeks later.

Scudder said she expects the downward trend in illegal border crossings to continue, thanks to the wall, agreements with agencies and Mexico, and Migrant Protection Protocol in place.

Border officials said migrants in custody for more than 72 hours are often held past the mandated time due to medical or processing complications.