The National Border Patrol Council, representing 17,000 United States Border Patrol agents, takes issue with the study conducted by the American Immigration Council alleging that Border Patrol agents are abusing illegal aliens and that Customs and Border Protection is turning a blind eye.
The National Border Patrol Council does not condone the abuse of illegal aliens, in any form. Border Patrol agents work every day to protect this nation’s borders. This same work includes rescuing illegal aliens, treating their injuries, and providing them food and shelter in numbers far beyond what any other aid group has ever accomplished for illegal aliens. While foreign governments and cartels will abuse, rob, injure, and kill illegal aliens headed to the United States, those that make it across the border know that even if they are caught by the Border Patrol they will be cared for and returned to their native country alive and fed. This is not to say there are not those within our ranks that have committed crimes against illegal aliens. Those crimes should be thoroughly investigated and if found guilty, the criminals punished.
The American Immigration Council study showed that 809 complaints were lodged from January 2009 to January 2012. During that period, Border Patrol agents made over 1.5 million arrests, for a rate of one allegation for every 2000 arrests. These allegations are thoroughly investigated by agents from the Office of the Inspector General and the Office of Internal Affairs, none of who are Border Patrol agents. Nowhere in the study are the allegations verified as having merit nor are the histories of those making the allegations scrutinized. The outcomes are simply listed as “No Action Taken,” or still under investigation. It is disingenuous to assume that 58% of the cases have been swept aside or ignored. It is just as easy to assume that no action was taken because, after a thorough investigation, there was no basis or validity to the allegation.
Every Border Patrol station, processing center, and holding cell has the telephone number to make complaints conspicuously posted in several locations so that every person arrested can be aware of it. All Border Patrol agents are trained to notate it in processing paperwork and to notify a supervisor when an illegal alien makes an allegation of abuse. The overwhelming number of allegations are made by those facing prison time or with a lengthy criminal history, whose sole goal is to exploit the system in the hopes of avoiding prosecution. The National Border Patrol Council has repeatedly called upon Customs and Border Protection to release the data on allegations, the results of investigations, and the criminal histories on those making the allegations. We believe that if the facts are brought to light, the actions of Border Patrol agents will be justified. The sheer numbers speak for themselves, Border Patrol agents do this job professionally and with great respect for those we arrest.
This job does have another dimension however, as we are encountering people who do not want to be caught by the Border Patrol. They will run when encountered, resist when caught, and on occasion assault and even kill Border Patrol agents in order to further their criminal activity. These criminals make a choice to disregard lawful orders given to them, to resist arrest, and to assault Border Patrol agents and when there are consequences, they decide they do not like them. No one wants to be arrested or to have force used against them, but nowhere is it written that Border Patrol agents are to be used as targets or punching bags. If an illegal alien resists or attacks an agent then the minimal amount of force necessary will be used to make an arrest. This amount of force will depend upon the type of action taken against them and other factors, including but not limited to, that Border Patrol agents often work alone, in remote areas, and are almost always outnumbered.
It is easy to second-guess Border Patrol agents and the actions they take. Law enforcement is not a profession where cause and effect are always clear, nor is there a guarantee that everyone goes home every day safe and sound. It is a complex environment where humans on both sides of the border make choices that have consequences. Policy, training, and the law guide the choices of Border Patrol agents. Our adversaries are bound by no rules.