The Department of Homeland Security is retaliating against the head of the union representing Border Patrol agents who protested the administration’s policy of releasing recent border crossers, according to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).
The timing of an allegation of misconduct brought by at least one Border Patrol manager appears to raise the possibility of retaliation, writes Goodlatte. The allegation is being made against Brandon Judd, the president of the National Border Patrol Council.
“I have been informed that one or more managers within the U.S. Border Patrol submitted a complaint for alleged misconduct to the Joint Intake Center against Mr. Judd and other Executive Committee members of the National Border Patrol Council, and that the Office of Professional Responsibility is the most likely DHS component that will be tasked with this investigation,” Goodlatte wrote in a letter to DHS Sec. Jeh Johnson Monday.
“Such an inquiry, launched within days of Mr. Judd’s testimony before the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, raises the specter of retaliation against Mr. Judd and the other executive committee members,” he added.
On Feb. 4, Judd testified before the Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee that Border Patrol agents have been ordered to release illegal immigrants who are apprehended at the border without completing the requisite paperwork that would put recent border crossers in removal proceedings. This was done, Judd said, in an effort to reduce the “embarrassingly” high rate of illegal immigrants failing to appear in immigration court for their removal proceedings.
“Simply put, the policy makes mandatory the release, without [a Notice to Appear], of any person arrested by the Border Patrol for being in the country illegally, as long as they do not have a previous felony arrest conviction and as long as they claim to have been continuously in the United States since January of 2014,” Judd explained in written testimony. “The operative word in this policy is ‘claim.’”
A month later, before the House Appropriations Committee, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske offered testimony contradicting Judd’s testimony and cast doubt on the union’s credibility by saying it “is not the most knowledgeable organization about what’s actually going on.”
The complaint against Judd and other union leaders was issued shortly after Judd testified before the immigration subcommittee, according to Goodlatte. In his letter to Johnson, Goodlatte requested assurance that Judd and others would receive fair treatment.
“I fully expect that you will personally ensure that no DHS employee or contractor will be targeted for reprisal or any other form of adverse employment action on the basis of voicing their legitimate concerns regarding compliance with unwritten departmental policies that contradict your written policies,” he wrote.
“Additionally, please give me your assurance that any allegation of employee misconduct against Mr. Judd or any other DHS employee or contractor will be investigated fairly and impartially by the appropriate DHS component, without any improper influence by any person within DHS.”