Border personnel taking 80 migrants to hospitals daily: DHS official
Federal law enforcement assigned to the U.S.-Mexico border are transporting approximately 80 sick migrants in federal custody to hospitals for medical care each day, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, incorrectly told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Tuesday morning Border Patrol agents and Office of Field Operations officers are transporting “800” people daily. A previous version of this story reflected Morgan’s mistake.
A CBP spokeswoman who followed up with the Washington Examiner Tuesday afternoon said Morgan “meant to say 80 people per day on average to the hospital” after misspeaking during the hearing.
Morgan said the need for transportation, drivers, and law enforcement to stay with migrants while they are in a medical facility has affected the Department of Homeland Security agency’s ability to patrol between the ports of entry.
“We are looking at $63 million dollars for continued medical assets and high risk support across the southwest border. That was included in the supplemental,” Morgan said during a hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Tuesday.
In March, the Washington Examiner reported CBP personnel had spent more than 49,000 hours facilitating medical trips and watching patients while they are in hospitals since January. The loss of agents working in law enforcement roles is equivalent to the 2,000 hours worked by 25 Border Patrol agents in a year.
DHS has diverted $45 million in operational funds to go toward medical costs over the past five years, according to data obtained by the Washington Examiner.
As of March, the U.S. Border Patrol had diverted $9 million in operational funding in fiscal year 2019, as it has done in each of the four previous years, to instead cover medical screenings and related services for thousands of immigrants.
CBP said it had “seen an increase in the numbers of apprehended individuals requiring medical assistance,” but Morgan did not provide an update to the total number of hospital referrals Tuesday.