HODGDON, Maine — The partial federal shutdown is in its 27th day and federal workers are still going without pay, including United States Customs and Border Protection agents.
Some of those agents that are supposed to be patrolling the Canadian border are now assisting America’s border with Mexico.
The department has been rotating about 20% of its agents to the southwest border every 30 days. Acting Chief Jason Schneider says about 50% of the department has spent some time on the Mexican border.
But with agents so far from home, it leaves a void here in Maine.
“It definitely hinders our abilities to conduct numerous operations, whether its Marine patrol operations or snowmobile operations along the border,” Schneider said.
Agents in Maine are assisting with both the law enforcement and humanitarian aspects of what’s happening on the southern border.
“It’s drastically changed, with what we’re encountering as far as arrests on the southwest border. About 60% of our apprehensions on the southwest border are family units and unaccompanied children.” Schneider said. “Historically it’s been 80% single adult males, predominately from Mexico.”
Agents here in Maine and others across the country say they see a need for not just a wall, but other security measures.
Acting Chief Schneider says his department has submitted packages to the Department of Homeland Security. Those packages have been shared with Congress and President Trump.
“We’re the border security experts and we've presented exactly what we need to effectively do our job and to gain operational control of the southwest border. And it includes technology, a wall, a barrier, additional manpower.” Schneider said.
Senator Susan Collins says there are parts of the border in Texas where building a wall is just not feasible.
“But you can in those areas use sensors, more border patrol agents or other means of strengthening the border.” She said.
The partial federal shutdown is now approaching the one month mark, but agents here in Maine continue to patrol, continue to do their jobs, with no idea when their next paycheck will come.
“But I will say the men and women of the U.S. Border Patrol are professionals, they're dedicated and we're working without a paycheck. And uh, we're working without a paycheck. We swore an oath to uphold the constitution of the United States of America and we're doing it day in and day out, regardless of a paycheck.” Schneider said.
All government employees who are working during the shutdown will be compensated when the government reopens.