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October 26, 2012 - Border Patrol Agent Jesus Diaz was sentenced to 24 months in prison on October 20, 2012 for depriving a drug smuggler of his Constitutional rights under color of law. This sentence was the culmination of a prolonged investigation by DHS investigators and prosecutors from the US Attorney’s office. This case continues the tradition of bias against Border Patrol agents in the Western District of Texas.
The National Border Patrol Council disagrees with the exorbitant waste of time and resources that were devoted to this prosecution. The National Border Patrol Council believes that Diaz’s actions did not rise to the level of a crime; those actions should have been dealt with at the administrative level resulting at most in Diaz’s termination as a Border Patrol agent. Thousands of man-hours and millions of tax dollars were expended to obtain a 24 month conviction for someone who has already spent eight months in custody. Plans to appeal this verdict are under way.
While the US Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Texas has a job to do, one that includes prosecuting Border Patrol agents who commit crimes, it has shown a distinctly quick trigger in going after Border Patrol agents. That same quickness would be better served in prosecuting the criminals who routinely assault Border Patrol agents and violate the immigration and drug laws of the United States.
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Finally, when Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY) began her questioning of Holder, she asked the question that this organization has been asking for over a year. Buerkle asked, “How many more Border Patrol agents would have had to die for you to take responsibility?” Holder could only respond by attempting to paint the question as one that shouldn’t be asked stating, “I mean, really, as a member of Congress, is that the way you want to be seen, or the way you want to be known?”
The National Border Patrol Council hopes that every member of this committee and every Member of Congress would want to be known for asking a question that needs to be asked. Rep. Buerkle asked the question that Border Patrol agents and their families have been asking since that fateful night in the desert of Arizona. It is a legitimate question that needed to be asked publicly and required a heartfelt response.
For decades Border Patrol agents have felt they were viewed as expendable by the U.S. government. Severe assaults on agents would be met with minimal or no prosecutions of those who committed the act, yet allegations made against Border Patrol agents were pursued by the DOJ with the aggressiveness that was lacking when the agents were themselves the victims. Appearing to enforce the immigration laws of the U.S. while actually accomplishing little became the norm. Empty words and platitudes from elected and appointed officials, or worse yet sleeping officials at the funerals of agents, who gave their lives in the line of duty, provided the final dishonor.
Operation Fast and Furious shows the lack of experience and foresight in running complex criminal investigations. An operation that knowingly put weapons in the hand of criminals committed to doing violence and that had great potential to do harm to American law enforcement officers and citizens is inexcusable.
So we will ask again, Attorney General Holder, how many Border Patrol agents have to die before you take responsibility for Operation Fast and Furious?
Bill Brooks, southwest border field branch chief for Customs and Border Protection in Washington, D.C. stated, “We are refining the way we operate by managing risk.” According to an article appearing on the KRGV.com website on October 21, 2011, Brooks explained how agents will only be at commercial transportation hubs if intelligence justifies the operations.
Stated plainly, Border Patrol managers are increasing the layers of bureaucracy and making it as difficult as possible for Border Patrol agents to conduct their core duties. The only risks being managed by this move are too many apprehensions, negative media attention and complaints generated by immigrant rights groups.
Interior patrol operations, farm and ranch checks, and other enforcement operations met a similar fate nearly ten years ago when the Border Patrol implemented the same intelligence-based philosophy. Due to the unnecessary bureaucratic red tape, it is next to impossible to get an operation in those areas approved; therefore, apprehensions in those areas also decreased. By decreasing apprehensions, Border Patrol management and the Administration can make false claims regarding the security of our borders. Further, the lack of apprehensions makes it easier for the Administration to promote some form of amnesty.
Border Patrol agents have been extremely effective in arresting illegal immigrants, drug smugglers, and those violating a myriad of laws by conducting transportation checks. Millions of illegal aliens are currently residing in the United States and they are utilizing transportation systems to travel throughout the country. This change in policy would give criminals a free pass to exploit these transit systems. A decade ago nineteen illegal aliens overstayed visas and showed the vulnerability of our transportation system, which resulted in nearly 3,000 Americans losing their lives. This lesson must be lost on those running the Border Patrol in Washington.
February 3, 2012 – On February 2, 2012, Attorney General Eric Holder appeared and gave testimony before the House Oversight Committee regarding the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and the ill conceived Operation Fast and Furious. Several times during his testimony he was asked questions to which he would give dismissive answers or attribute the questions to political pandering or election year charades. This was nothing new for a man who has refused to accept responsibility for this fiasco and has not disciplined any of the high-ranking officials who were involved with the approval of this operation. Instead, the ATF retaliated against whistleblowers that helped expose the dangerous operation.
Finally, when Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY) began her questioning of Holder, she asked the question that this organization has been asking for over a year. Buerkle asked, "How many more Border Patrol agents would have had to die for you to take responsibility?" Holder could only respond by attempting to paint the question as one that shouldn't be asked stating, "I mean, really, as a member of Congress, is that the way you want to be seen, or the way you want to be known?"