Despite scorching temperatures, migrants continue to arrive at the southern border in ever-growing numbers.
“You can't compare this current surge to anything that's happened in the past,” said Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council.
Judd tells Newsy the surge is severely overwhelming the roughly 18,000 agents he represents.
“Over the weekend we were holding 10,000 people in custody. We don't have the number of agents to watch 10,000 people,” Judd said.
New government estimates show last month the U.S. took into custody around 210,000 migrants — the highest monthly total in over 20 years and a significant increase from previous months.
As a result, Border Patrol facilities are now up to 700% over capacity. That means more officers supervising migrants in custody and less agents patrolling the border.
“Our agents aren't actually on the border doing the job they were hired to do,” Judd said, adding that one agent could be assigned to watch 600 immigrants.
“There's no way in the world that one person is going to be able to ensure the safety and protection of all of those 600 people in that pod," he said.
Judd has been in the Border Patrol for over 20 years and was a supporter and close ally of President Donald Trump.
While some observers point to unrest in Central America and beyond as the driving force behind the migration surge, Judd blames President Biden’s policies.
“People are crossing the border illegally knowing that they're going to be released into the United States never to have to leave this country,” Judd said.
The Biden administration is keeping in place a Trump policy allowing it to expel most migrants during the pandemic. But it’s also releasing into the country an increasing number of families and unaccompanied children.
Judd says that’s not only encouraging more people to migrate, it’s also a COVID hazard.
“In the Rio Grande Valley right now, we've got over 80 agents that are out with COVID-19,” he said.
At the same time, his union supports agents who are hesitant to get vaccines they consider “experimental.”
NEWSY'S BEN SCHAMISSO: "I'm not sure I follow how you can be concerned with COVID-19 on the one hand, and on the other hand also understand why some agents would refuse to be vaccinated."
JUDD: “There's other mitigating ways that you can take care of COVID: You can wear PPE, you can social distance, you can do all of those different things to mitigate COVID.”
As for the Biden White House, it blames Donald Trump’s dismantling of the asylum system for the rush at the border.
Administration officials say they’re working hard to rebuild a "fair, orderly, and humane immigration system, including by expanding lawful pathways to the United States and discouraging irregular migration.”