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Border Patrol agent Carlos Ruiz spots undocumented immigrants in Penitas, Texas, September. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents are suffering from a crisis in morale after facing severe national backlash as the once obscure law enforcement job moves into the spotlight of the immigration debate, according to the New York Times.

Why it matters: Despite support from the White House and members of Congress and a decent middle-class wage, many agents have grown disillusioned with their jobs and the agency remains about 1,800 agents short of its hiring targets.

What they're saying: Chris Harris, who was an agent for 21 years and a Border Patrol union official until he retired, told the Times that agents are struggling with national criticism.

  • "To have gone from where people didn’t know much about us to where people actively hate us, it’s difficult," he said. "There’s no doubt morale has been poor in the past, and it’s abysmal now. I know a lot of guys just want to leave."
  • “The intense criticism that is being directed at the Border Patrol is necessary and important because I do think that there’s a culture of cruelty or callousness,” said Francisco Cantú, a former agent. “There’s a lack of oversight. There is a lot of impunity.”

Context: The 20,000 agents of the Border Patrol have faced criticism for being the arm of the Trump administration's immigration policies, the revelation of a private Facebook group for agents filed with racist posts and the deaths of 10 immigrants in the custody of the Border Patrol and its parent agency.

The other side: Natalia Nunez, a college student in Calexico, California, told the Times that Border Patrol agents are fixtures in many communities.

  • "Being in the Border Patrol is a normal thing around here," she said. "I have three cousins who are agents. I have friends whose parents are agents. They aren’t supposed to talk about it. I wonder how they can sleep at night if they have to lock up kids in cages like animals."

Go deeper

17 mins ago - World

Report: "Clear evidence" China is committing genocide against Uyghurs

The scene in 2019 of a site believed to be a re-education camp where mostly Muslim ethnic minorities are detained, north of Kashgar in China's northwestern Xinjiang region. Photo: Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

Chinese authorities have breached "each and every act prohibited" under the UN Genocide Convention over the treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China's Xinjiang province, an independent report published Tuesday alleges.

Why it matters: D.C. think-tank the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy, which released the report, said in a statement the conclusions by dozens of experts in war crimes, human rights and international law are "clear and convincing": The ruling Chinese Communist Party bears responsibility.

Updated 2 hours ago - Technology

Twitter sues Texas AG Ken Paxton

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton at February's Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Twitter on Monday filed a lawsuit against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), saying that his office launched an investigation into the social media giant because it banned former President Trump from its platform.

Driving the news: Twitter is seeking to halt an investigation launched by Paxton into moderation practices by Big Tech firms including Twitter for what he called "the seemingly coordinated de-platforming of the President," days after they banned him following the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate retirements could attract GOP troublemakers

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Roy Blunt's retirement highlights the twin challenge facing Senate Republicans: finding good replacement candidates and avoiding a pathway for potential troublemakers to join their ranks.

Why it matters: While the midterm elections are supposed to be a boon to the party out of power, the recent run of retirements — which may not be over — is upending that assumption for the GOP in 2022.

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