From [HERE] AFTER CLAUDIA PATRICIA GÓMEZ GONZÁLEZ, a 19-year-old indigenous Guatemalan, was shot to death last week by a Border Patrol agent near Laredo, Texas, the Border Patrol issued a press release claiming that the teenager was one of a group of “illegal aliens” who were “assailants” threatening the agent with “blunt objects.” Two days later, the government’s story changed. A new press release did not mention weapons, and it described the young woman not as an “assailant,” but as a part of a group who “rushed” the officer after ignoring orders to get on the ground.
As a storm of media coverage ensued, NPR reported that the Border Patrol’s “use of force involving firearms” had more than doubled, after dropping more than 70 percent over five years. From October 2017 to March 2018, agents used guns nine times. During the same period the previous year, they used guns four times. Administration officials justified the spike, NPR said, by claiming that assaults on Border Patrol agents have increased significantly.
But as The Intercept reported in April, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has been grossly and falsely inflating its assault statistics since 2016. CBP claimed that there were 454 assaults on agents nationwide in 2016, a 20 percent increase from the previous year. In 2017, according to CBP, there were 786 assaults, a 73 percent spike from the previous year. But The Intercept obtained data from CBP showing that the agency was using an unconventional method to count assaults. The conventional way to count attacks on agents is to simply note the number of agents assaulted in any given incident. But CBP was multiplying the number of agents assaulted by the number of assailants times the number of weapons used. This resulted in bizarrely inflated numbers, such as one incident involving six agents, in which 126 “assaults” were calculated.
Meanwhile, according to the FBI, only 397 agents were assaulted in 2016, compared with the CBP’s inflated claim to the public of 454. The Intercept attempted to obtain numbers from the FBI for 2017, to compare that data with CBP’s claim of 786 assaults, but the FBI said it would not be publishing the numbers until late May.
Now that data is available. It shows a 9 percent rise in the number of agents assaulted from 2016 to 2017 — from 397 to 432. But the data also shows a 22 percent drop in the number of agents injured, from 132 to 103.
Further, in 2016 the ratio of agents actually hurt to total agents assaulted was low: about 1 in 3. In 2017, it was even lower: about 1 in 4. These statistics show how rare it is for Border Patrol agents to be assaulted, much less injured. Additional data evidencing the low number of injuries has recently become available from the U.S. Department of Labor.
In May, KRGV-Channel 5, an ABC affiliate in south Texas, published U.S. Department of Labor data on work-related injuries among Border Patrol agents. The data received extended to late 2017 and indicates that over three years, Border Patrol agents filed an average of 113 injury claims annually that were caused either by violence or “Enemy Action.” The low Labor Department number tracks the FBI’s low figure.
The Intercept examined Labor data for October and November 2017 to get an idea of what kinds of assault-related injuries agents are reporting. We counted 14 such claims. One agent reported injuries caused by crushing — a potentially serious health matter — but other injuries were minor. For instance, two agents received bruises. A few others sprained a limb. Two had “pain, swelling, and redness” in an unspecified body part that was not a joint. One victim of “Enemy Action” received a cut. [MORE]