AUSTIN, Texas — A Texas congressman whose district runs along 800 miles of the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico boundary lambasted a federal government official who claimed that the border crisis was not causing Border Patrol agents to commit suicide at rising rates.
Republican Rep. Tony Gonzales said U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Suicidologist Dr. Kent Corso’s conclusion that non-work issues were the top reasons for the uptick in deaths among federal law enforcement was false.
“He’s wrong. I don’t think it takes a doctor to realize or a brain surgeon to realize 14 suicides is 14 too many, as well as there is something wrong within the organization,” Gonzales told the Washington Examiner in a phone interview.
Gonzales, who spent 20 years in the military and was deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, said the military faced a similar spike in suicides among personnel during the war on terror.
“During that time, if you ask [the Department of Defense], they would say to you, ‘No, everything’s under control, we’re doing X, Y, or Z.’ Well, clearly whatever they were doing wasn’t working,” Gonzales added.
This calendar year, 14 CBP employees have taken their own lives, including eight Border Patrol agents. The three most recent deaths took place in a 15-day span in November.
Corso told the Washington Examiner in an interview last week that agents “do talk about the border conditions decreasing their role, but in no way is that the cause of suicide.”
Over the past two years, CBP’s Border Patrol, Air and Marine Operations, and Office of Field Operations have responded to more illegal immigrant encounters at the border under President Joe Biden than during any other period in U.S. history.