A record number of Border Patrol agents are calling in sick and others are showing up to work sick because they are out of sick time, the head of the local Border Patrol union tells ABC-7.
“I believe this is probably the record, you know, Border Patrol-wide, since ever, of agents calling in sick,” said Carlos Favela, president of the National Border Patrol Council Local 1929.
Favela said the trend started at the same time as the surge of migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. in late 2018. Newly-released figures from the Department of Homeland Security reveal Border Patrol agents encountered 109,144 migrants in April 2019, the highest since 2007. The figure includes more than 58,000 migrant parents and children and 8,800 unaccompanied children taken into custody, according to Homeland Security.
Favela said agents are filing reports with the union, saying they came into contact with undocumented immigrants infected with the H1N1 virus and diseases like chicken pox and Legionnaires’.
The union is having a hard time getting “evidence and documentation” from the U.S. Border Patrol that would allow it to formulate a plan to protect agents, Favela said, adding that also makes it more difficult to pinpoint how widespread the problem is.
The union is now calling on the Centers for Disease Control to step in and investigate. It is also demanding better protection for agents, better health screening procedures conducted by doctors, not nurses, and new facilities where sick immigrants can be quarantined.