CBP Using Fake Math To Greatly Inflate Number Of Assaults On Border Patrol Officers

from the 'a-vast,-unprecedented-increase-in-departmental-bullshit...' dept

Customs and Border Protection is inflating numbers to push a narrative about dangerous undocumented immigrants. And it's not just a little bit of fudging. It's a whole new way of counting -- one that fuels anti-immigrant rhetoric and keeps the agency well-funded.

As crime numbers around the nation remain at historic lows, there appears to be an explosion of violence near our southern borders, targeting Border Patrol officers.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data, assaults on Border Patrol officers increased dramatically in fiscal year 2016, reversing a long downward trend. That year, CBP claims, there were 454 assaults on agents nationwide, compared with 378 in fiscal year 2015, a 20 percent increase. The increase from 2016 to 2017 was even more surprising. In 2017, according to CBP, there were 786 assaults, a spike of 73 percent, even as apprehensions fell from 415,816 to 310,532.

But there's actually been no spike in violent incidents. In fact, numbers have been trending downwards since 2012. In 2015, the CBP rolled out its new math, kick starting a rise in number of assaults on CBP officers and reversing the trend. This dramatic increase in assaults on officers isn't supported by any normal means of counting assaults. This is how the CBP does its "assaults on officers" addition. It involves a lot of multiplication.

Almost the entire increase — 271 purported assaults — was said to have occurred in one sector, the Rio Grande Valley, in South Texas. A large number of the assaults supposedly occurred on a single day, according to charts and details provided by Christiana Coleman, a CBP public affairs spokesperson. In response to questions from The Intercept, Coleman explained in an email that “an incident in the Rio Grande Valley Sector on February 14, 2017, involved seven U.S. Border Patrol Agents assaulted by six subjects utilizing three different types of projectiles (rocks, bottles, and tree branches), totaling 126 assaults.”

This is how you turn seven assaults in 126 assaults: 6 x 3 x 7 = 126. This is the formula used by the CBP since 2015 to greatly overstate violence near the borders and give Americans the false impression Border Patrol officers are increasingly subject to physical assault. A single incident involving seven assaulted officers becomes 119 additional "assaults."

There's more to it than simply turning simple tallies into multiplication problems. Apparently, assault doesn't even have to involve assault.

According to the FBI, most Border Patrol agents for whom assault data has been publicly reported were not injured. Rocks and water bottles don’t always hit their mark. Or they are never thrown in the first place — for reporting purposes, apparently, the mere brandishing of an object constitutes assault.

In all likelihood, being a Border Patrol agent today is as safe as it was in 2015, before CBP started messing with the math. A Border Patrol agent's relative safety surpasses that of law enforcement officers -- another group that tends to exaggerate the life-threatening aspects of the profession.

The decrease was so significant that by 2016, according to FBI statistics, Border Patrol agents were about five times less likely to be assaulted than officers in local police departments — and only half as likely to be killed on the job by homicide or by accident. As the Cato Institute observed in November, “Regular Americans are more than twice as likely to be murdered in any year from 2003 through 2017 than Border Patrol agents were.”

Despite this supposed spike in violent assaults, the CBP has issued zero press releases and made zero public statements about this self-created epidemic of violence. Instead, it has fed those numbers to people who can make the most of them: politicians.

At the Department of Homeland Security’s 15th anniversary celebration in March, Vice President Mike Pence talked about why the Border Patrol needs $21 billion in additional funding “to provide our front-line agents with the personnel, the technology, the equipment, and the facilities to do their job.”

Pence said all this was needed because “one of the most shocking stories we heard was in the last fiscal year” when “attacks on our Border Patrol agents had increased by 73 percent.” This, he added, was why the Trump administration was seeking $18 billion for a border wall.

The CBP is better off allowing politicians to stir anti-immigrant fervor. Politicians are naturally better at PR and selling narratives. What the CBP wants is a steadily-increasing budget and feeding fake stats to lawmakers ensures the paychecks will follow the rhetoric. It's blatantly dishonest to portray assaults in this manner. And the CBP knows it. But it has no interest in earning the public's trust or being a good steward of the funds and powers granted to it by the citizens and their government.

Filed Under: assaults, border patrol, cbp, fake news, fake stats


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Apr 2018 @ 4:37am

    I suspect they are vastly under reporting CBP assualts

    Based on this reasoning, "for reporting purposes, apparently, the mere brandishing of an object constitutes assault." The CBP has been responsible for hundreds of thousands of assaults per month.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Gues (profile), 27 Apr 2018 @ 5:56am

    Re: I suspect they are vastly under reporting CBP assualts

    Assault: Intentionally putting another person in reasonable apprehension of an imminent harmful or offensive contact. Physical injury does not need to result.

    Obviously (?) this excludes the legal use of force, or else soldiers fighting in a war or US states executing prisoners would be forms of assault. Or don't you want security officers to protect you? I ask that as a serious question, since it seems (?) to be the same people who object to law enforcement as object to the right to self-defense.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Apr 2018 @ 6:02am

    Re: Re: I suspect they are vastly under reporting CBP assualts

    There is nothing obvious about it. They are changing the definitions of standard terms and pretending that they are using the same standards. If they can move the goalposts, so can we.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Vincent Clement (profile), 27 Apr 2018 @ 6:04am

    Does anyone get the idea that law enforcement officials in the US are, well, weak or cowardly. Holding a water bottle is an assault?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Apr 2018 @ 6:06am

    Re: Re: I suspect they are vastly under reporting CBP assualts

    Precisely!

    Assault is basically the threat of battery.
    Battery is the actual physical attack.

    That's why you'll see people generally charged with "Assault and battery", then threatened to physically attack (assault), and then carried through with the attack (battery).

    So technically, the CBP is correct, each person performed 3 acts of assault and each act threatened 7 people. The counter to CBP of course is to ask them... "What is the historical trend of battery on CBP officials?" Then sit back and enjoy their expressions as they realize that they can't spin *those* numbers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    Christopher (profile), 27 Apr 2018 @ 6:15am

    Onething

    assault != battery

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Apr 2018 @ 6:57am

    Re: Re: I suspect they are vastly under reporting CBP assualts

    "people who object to law enforcement as object to the right to self-defense."

    Not sure what you are attempting to say here. AFAIK, those who you claim object to law enforcement are objecting about the unwarranted brutality. They are not objecting to keeping of the peace, they object to the unbalanced policing and railroading into prison. I do not recall any of them objecting to the right of self defense. They may have been objecting about those who "defend themselves" by attacking others - but idk.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Apr 2018 @ 7:02am

    Re: Re: Re: I suspect they are vastly under reporting CBP assualts

    "technically, the CBP is correct"

    Yes, you are correct

    1) need more funding for pet agency
    2) change method of measurement
    3) record the huge "increase"
    4) complain about lack of funding
    5) ???
    6) profit!!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Apr 2018 @ 7:05am

    Re:

    The people need to stop pounding their heads upon the officer's boots.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 27 Apr 2018 @ 7:31am

    Waaaaaa, he called me a )&%@#

    CBP is also probably including instances of name calling. That could be considered assault, but I think one has to get pretty close to someone else and then call the names for it to be considered assault. Beyond that, they are surely, deliberately conflating (as others have pointed out) assault and battery.

    This, I think, is how they intend to get the money for that useless wall.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Apr 2018 @ 7:52am

    some 'Hollywood Accounting' being used here, i think!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Apr 2018 @ 8:37am

    Re:

    Method: to pull numbers out of their asses.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Apr 2018 @ 8:37am

    Re: Re: Re: I suspect they are vastly under reporting CBP assualts

    The problem with that math is that it would take some kind of superhuman to hit 7 officers with a single thrown rock. So either we need to declare the illegal immigrants superhumans that a wall is useless against, or indicate that each person performed 3 acts of assault each of which threatened 1/7th of a person.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    JoeCool (profile), 27 Apr 2018 @ 8:52am

    Re: Onething

    It still doesn't change the fact that they counted SEVEN occurrences the same as 126. SEVEN INSTANCES of assault occurred, not 126.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Apr 2018 @ 9:34am

    Language assault

    Let's keep in mind, that talking in Spanish or any foreign language is a form of assault. You clearly don't want gringos to understand your plan to make a formation that will go thru troops and walls.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 27 Apr 2018 @ 3:58pm

    That works BOTH ways, right? Right?

    According to the FBI, most Border Patrol agents for whom assault data has been publicly reported were not injured. Rocks and water bottles don’t always hit their mark. Or they are never thrown in the first place — for reporting purposes, apparently, the mere brandishing of an object constitutes assault.

    So if a CBP agent were to say, draw a gun on someone, that should be treated as nothing less than attempted murder, correct? If you don't have to follow through for it to count then clearly any similar actions by CBP agents should also be treated the same, and I can't help but wonder how many digits those numbers would be.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Apr 2018 @ 4:03pm

    The wall is not useless.

    It would be a good thing to have a wall all around the USA. It would immediately convert the entire USA into a prison, which certain companies would really like as more prisoners means more money.

    It would also mean that we would not have to put up with any more shenanigans from the USA Politburo or Star Chamber. Best of all, Hollywood would be behind that wall and no longer polluting the world with remakes upon remakes upon remakes.

    And we could finally stop listening to the whining of the USA, it's bad enough having to listen to the whining of the Poms. That would be a good idea as well, put a wall about England.

    And for all of you who don't get it - /sarc.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    DavidMxx (profile), 27 Apr 2018 @ 8:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: I suspect they are vastly under reporting CBP assualts

    The issue isn't how the assaults are calculated. The issue is that they didn't recalculate previous years using the SAME calculation method. As in accounting, if you change the way you calculate a number, to make meaningful comparisons with previous years you must recalculate all numbers that you are comparing in the same way.

    To conclude that assaults are increasing, one must compare each year in the same way and show the numbers are increasing using the same formula. If you don't, then no viable conclusion can be reached.

    Any government official with an ounce of sense would understand this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Vivek Jazz, 28 Apr 2018 @ 12:25am

    Thank you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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