The leader of the union that represents Border Patrol agents slammed the deployment of National Guard troops to the border by the Trump administration, calling it "a colossal waste of resources."
In comments to the Los Angeles Times published Thursday, Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, said that despite his initial praise of the decision to deploy troops, the way the Guard has been used thus far has not helped the Border Patrol workload the way deployments under previous administrations have, to his recollection.
The Trump administration has deployed roughly 1,600 troops thus far out of up to 4,000 that President Donald Trump and the Pentagon authorized. Troops are mostly assisting by monitoring surveillance feeds -- which by law may not be pointed at Mexican territory when Guard troops are watching -- conducting aerial surveillance flights, and maintaining and building infrastructure.
In response to Judd's comments, a Customs and Border Protection spokesperson said troops' presence thus far has led to 4,116 arrests, 1,182 turned-back illegal crossing attempts and 3,554 pounds of seized illicit drugs. Those figures compare with roughly 38,000 total apprehensions by the Border Patrol in each of the past few months, and it's unclear specifically what the Guard contribution was in each case.
"National Guard personnel supporting Operation Guardian Support have already had an impact on U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Southwest Border operations," the spokesperson said. "Their work allows agents to fulfill regular law enforcement duties by supplementing necessary support roles."
Judd and his union of roughly 18,000 Border Patrol agents endorsed Trump during the campaign and have remained vocally supportive of him, though they have criticized administration policies, including blaming "Obama holdovers" for policies they're critical of.
"We have seen no benefit," Judd said of the deployment, saying he recalls previous administrations' deployments as allowing the Guard troops to do more.
"They're not allowed to be in the public eye. They're not allowed to be in our lookout and observation posts, even in Texas," he told the Los Angeles Times. "We generally support the administration, but we're not going to be cheerleading when things are not going well."