Border patrol agents with National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) Local 1613 are publicly voicing concern over new policies the representatives say pose a threat to national security.
Among the issues the NBPC Local 1613 representatives cited in speaking with Breitbart California after a Tuesday meeting with Congressman Duncan Hunter were Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), an exceedingly high bar for prosecution of criminal aliens, agent pay reductions, decreased training time, and the need for improved equipment.
NBPC Local 1613 representatives, all Border Patrol agents themselves, met Tuesday morning and again Wednesday with Congressman Hunter via phone and with representatives of his staff in the Congressman’s El Cajon, California office.
Discussing the meeting with Breitbart California, Christopher Harris and Gabe Pacheco emphasized one question in particular for the U.S. government, “Do they want us to be security guards or law enforcement?” According to the NBPC Local 1613 representatives, when an agent questions someone under suspicion of illegal presence in the U.S., they must now ask additional questions that clarify an illegal alien’s eligibility for DACA or DAPA, thus determining an illegal alien’s ability to remain in the country rather than be deported. Prior to DACA and DAPA, the same aliens being allowed to stay may have been slated for removal.
Chris Baldwin recounted one case in which agents caught a narcotics smuggler. The first hurdle with prosecuting the smuggler came when the case failed to meet the high level of U.S. California Attorney’s Office prosecution guidelines.
The smuggler was set up with a notice to appear to be deported for aggravated felony of alien smuggling. The smuggler then expressed a willingness to operate as an informant on other, larger smuggling operators. Agents moved forward with using him as an informant.
Agents were later instructed by upper level management to drop all charges and let the smuggler off the hook. Baldwin commented, “They’ve taken the crime of alien smuggling and made it almost impossible to prosecute. Not only was the smuggler released back into the U.S., but was released in an area where he could return to smuggling without being monitored.”
This was given as an example of prosecutorial discretion, not prosecuting criminal aliens under a certain predetermined criminal threshold that allowed a criminal alien to continue to operate within the U.S. without consequence.
Everlyn Prado told the story of how his family worked hard to come to the United States, legally. They “waited a long time, 10 years, some are still waiting to come. My dad came here and started a taxicab business and came legitimately. My sisters are still waiting to come from Ecuador.” Prado expressed his frustration with the current situation: “We’re helping illegal aliens stay in the country. That’s a violation of United States law.”
Harris, whose wife is also a legal immigrant to the United States, added, “You’re compromising national security when you don’t let border patrol agents do their job.”
Each agent expressed frustration, saying that agents just want to do the jobs they were hired for, but that changes in government directives concerning enforcement and degrading pay rates have played a part in what they say are some of the lowest morale rates of any federal government agency. Harris says that measure of morale is documented in the government’s own surveys.
In a 2014 survey of morale amongst 19 large government agencies, the Department of Homeland Security, umbrella agency over U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which is the umbrella over Border Patrol, ranked dead last in all but one category, and all but one of the rankings were down from 2013 by varying degrees.
The agents told Breitbart they were very thankful for the amount of time Congressman Hunter spent discussing the agents’ concerns. They also plan to follow up with other members of Congress. They’re hoping Congressional members will be discontent enough with the potentially lengthy delay in implementation of the recently passed Border Patrol Pay Reform Act, S. 1691, that members of Congress will take action and speed up implementation of the revised Border Patrol pay structure.
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