Officials of the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) are marking the 2nd Anniversary of the murder of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Javier Vega, Jr. by pushing a petition to the White House. The petition asks that Vega’s death be classified as being in the line of duty. Vega was allegedly murdered by 2 previously deported illegal aliens who were attempting to rob him and his family who were fishing in the countryside.
Even though Vega was killed on August 3, 2014 allegedly by two illegal aliens near the Texas border with Mexico, the Border Patrol has refused to classify his death as being a “Line of Duty Death” (LODD). This designation would allow Vega’s family to receive the benefits afforded to an agent killed in the line of duty. It would also allow him to be properly honored for his service and sacrifice, NBPC officials stated.
“BPA Javier Vega, Jr. was a great husband, father, son, brother and fellow Border Patrol Agent, NBPC Local 3307 President Paul Perez told Breitbart Texas on Tuesday evening. “He’s truly missed by all of his friends and family. We will never rest until we can ensure that he’s never forgotten. The only way to ensure it, is by having his death classified as a Line of Duty Death. By classifying his death as a Line of Duty Death, his family will receive the assurance that his name will be memorialized and will forever be associated with the proud history and traditions of the Border Patrol. His senseless and tragic death at the hands of two criminal illegal aliens cannot be ignored, especially given the fact that he courageously gave his life to protect his family.”
“The CBP Valor Memorial is dedicated to honoring those agents and officers who made the ultimate sacrifice, and BPA Vega’s actions to protect his family are deserving of that honor.” Perez continued. “The support of the public is important to show solidarity with those who put their life on the line every day.”
“Law Enforcement Officers need to know that if they make the ultimate sacrifice, that sacrifice will be honored by the citizenry they protect,” the union chapter president concluded. “This action isn’t only about honoring a fallen agent, but also honoring the family of that fallen hero. BPA Vega deserves nothing less than full recognition and honor for the actions he took on August 3, 2014.”
Union officials have been calling for the LODD designation of Vega’s death since the week following his murder. They have been joined in that call by U.S. Senator’s John McCain (R-AZ) and John Cornyn (R-TX). U.S. Representative Filemon Vela (D-TX) joined with Senator Cornyn in sending a letter to U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gill Kerlikowske calling for the LODD designation.
“The brave men and women of American law enforcement are never off-duty—they stand ready to protect us from threats to our safety and security at all times,” Cornyn and Vela wrote in the letter obtained by Breitbart Texas. “In recognition of this fact, the President and the United States Congress enacted a number of laws that encourage off-duty law enforcement agents to respond to violent crimes in progress, incapacitate criminals, and save lives. Javier Vega was a hero who stood up for these values and upheld his oath to protect and serve by making the ultimate sacrifice.”
The commissioner has said he supports the LODD designation, but so far his words have not turned into action. NBPC officials say that Kerlikowske is the only person with the authority to make the designation.
The petition can be found at the White House petitions page. As of the time of this article’s publication, the petition which began on August 1 had received just over 1,600 signatures. In order to get a response from the White House, the petition must reach 100,000 signatures. NBPC officials urge the public to join with them in honoring Agent Javier Vega and his family by signing this petition.
The NBPC issued the following statement in support of the request for the public’s support of the petition drive:
On August 3, 2014, Javier Vega Jr., or “Harvey” as his family and friends knew him, was enjoying family time with his wife (Andrea), sons (Jiovanni & Jarod), and his parents (Javier Sr. & Marie). The family was fishing at one of their favorite family spots located in an isolated area of Willacy County, Texas, which sits approximately 35 miles north of the U.S. / Mexico Border in South Texas (Rio Grande Valley). As they were enjoying their day, two men (who were later identified as criminal illegal aliens) approached the family and attempted to rob them, subsequently opening fire on the family. Harvey was shot and killed during the commission of this criminal act, while attempting to protect his family from these two criminal aliens, who had both been previously deported several times. During the shootout with the two criminal aliens, Javier Sr. was also shot and is still recovering to this day. Harvey lost his life doing what he had been doing all of his life, which was protecting others. As a former U.S. Marine, Harvey was drawn to the Border Patrol out of a sense of duty and patriotism. His life was cut short in front of his spouse, children and parents, a tragedy in and of itself, but when you add the fact that his murderers were criminal aliens illegally in the United States who never should have been present in our country, it makes the situation that much more tragic.
Border Patrol Agent Javier Vega Jr. entered on duty with the Border Patrol on February 11, 2008, with BP Class 745 and graduated from the BP Academy in Artesia, NM. He was assigned to the Kingsville, Texas Border Patrol Station and was assigned as a canine handler, a position he gave his all to.
The painful and unnecessary process that Harvey’s family has had to endure for two years in order to get his death classified as a Line of Duty Death (LODD) has become unbearable and disgustingly slow. Unfortunately, the Border Patrol’s leadership has all but been silenced on the matter (they weren’t even allowed to proclaim his name at a recent Law Enforcement Memorial in South Texas in which the names of fallen Border Patrol Agents was read aloud to those gathered to honor their sacrifice), as the decision as to whether a death is classified as a Line of Duty Death is left to the CBP Commissioner, in this case R. Gil Kerlikowske. Although the Commissioner has stated his “support” of declaring BPA Vega’s death a LODD, his actions have not indicated what his words would have you believe. Commissioner Kerlikowske is the only person within CBP (according to the CBP Valor Memorial Directive) that has the authority to declare a LODD for CBP’s Valor Memorial. Commissioner Kerlikowske has attempted to push the decision off on another entity, the Public Safety Officers Benefit Act Board, which falls under the Department of Justice, and who unfortunately has a backlog of cases to adjudicate.
The fact that the CBP Commissioner has twice failed to honor BPA Vega at CBP Valor Memorial Services in 2015 and 2016 (at CBP Headquarters in Washington, DC), and has only offered that he “supports” the LODD classification is an unspeakable tragedy and disservice to Harvey’s family and fellow Border Patrol Agents. Commissioner Kerlikowske’s decision to forgo making a decision, and instead “passing the buck” to DOJ, all the while offering hollow sympathy when questioned about it time and time again by Border Patrol Agents, only furthers the belief amongst the rank-and-file that CBP is out of touch with the men and women of the Border Patrol. We call on CBP Commissioner Kerlikowske to do the right and honorable thing, which is to honor the sacrifice made by Border Patrol Agent Javier Vega Jr. and declare his death a Line of Duty Death.
Without the Commissioner showing leadership and doing the right thing, the Vega family will be forced to endure another painful year of CBP failing to honor a true hero: their son, husband, and father.
(Disclosure: Breitbart Texas sponsored the Green Line podcast for the NBPC in an effort to provide a platform for agents to inform the public about the realities on the border and what Border Patrol agents face. Director Brandon Darby received an award from the Laredo chapter of the NBPC for his work in helping to defend and bring a voice to Border Patrol agents. Breitbart News assisted in covering funeral costs for a slain Border Patrol agent previously. Darby and Breitbart senior management have directly stated and shown that helping to bring a voice to the expressed needs and interests of Border Patrol agents is a top priority–personally, individually and together through Breitbart News.)