NEW YORK –U.S. Border Patrol morale is “dipping,” according to a veteran agent, as he and his colleagues feel hamstrung by fear of prosecution if they accidentally harm illegal aliens who now have even more motivation to flee because they believe they will receive amnesty.
“With all the talk of comprehensive immigration reform and amnesty coming from Washington, so many people illegally crossing the border have it in their minds that ‘I need to get away,’ and whoever is standing in their way is going to suffer their wrath,” said Chris Cabrera, a Border Patrol agent for nearly 13 years and a vice president in the National Border Patrol Council Local 3307.
In an interview Tuesday with WND, Cabrera explained that if a person crossing the border illegally believes he will receive amnesty if he gets away from the Border Patrol, he will take extreme measures.
“When you couple this with the fact the U.S. attorneys rarely prosecute illegal immigrants who harm Border Patrol agents,” Cabrera said, the attitude among agents then is: “Why even worry about it?”
As evidence violence has increased along the border, he pointed to the alleged murder by two Mexican nationals of off-duty U.S. Border Patrol agent Javier Vega Jr. in front of his family last Sunday evening in Texas.
Vega was fishing with his parents, his wife and children at a levy on the Gulf Coast in Willacy County, Texas, east of McAllen.
According to Willacy County Sheriff Larry Spence, the two suspects drove up in an SUV and accosted Vega and his family with weapons drawn in an apparent robbery attempt, KGRV-TV in the Rio Grande Valley reported.
Vega, also armed, exchanged gunfire with the suspects.
Vega was shot once in the chest, and his father was shot in the hip. Vega’s mother called authorities to report the shooting.
The Border Patrol agent died on the way to the hospital, and a memorial fund has since been set up to aid his wife and three children.
After working all night to capture the suspects, Willacy County investigators found their vehicle disabled near the scene of the shooting. Footprints helped investigators find them hiding behind a house.
On Tuesday, both Hispanic suspects were arraigned on capital murder charges, reported local KURV radio.
“Everything has come to kind of a halt, with one of our Border Patrol agents being gunned down,” Cabrera said. “We have the funeral coming on now, and our grief will be all we can think about, at least for the next few days.”
Cabrera said Border Patrol agents increasingly try to avoid any encounters illegal immigrants in which force or violence might develop.
“U.S. attorneys historically do not stand up for Border Patrol agents,” he said.
“We’ve been told that it’s just part of our job that we are going to get hit, spit upon; and if there’s not enough blood, no U.S. attorney is going to prosecute,” said Cabrera. “Even when the agents get beat up pretty good – scratched up, cut up – the U.S. attorney will not prosecute. They just say, ‘It doesn’t meet the threshold.’”
He contrasted the feds’ approach with Texas state law.
“It stings when under Texas state law, you so much as spit on a police officer and you’re going to get prosecuted if you’re a citizen. But with Border Patrol, you have to have severe injuries before prosecutors do anything.”
Cabrera said morale among Border Patrol agents right now is “dipping.”
He cited an incident the same day Vega was shot.
“Another one of our agents up in the checkpoint area got in a scuffle with an illegal he was trying to apprehend,” he explained. “She suffered a severe concussion and no charges have been filed so far.”
Cabrera said failure to prosecute illegal immigrants who harm Border Patrol agents in the normal course of doing their duties is an increasing morale problem.
“We had an agent who apprehended some illegals bringing drugs into the country,” he recalled.
“The Border Patrol agent went to place the guy under arrest, and they got into a big knock-down, drag-out fight in which the agent hurt his knee and he got hit in the head. They sent him to a hospital and he was there for a couple of days.”
Cabrera found the legal outcome of the case frustrating.
“When they took the guy to court, the guy decided he would plead guilty to the drug charges in exchange for the U.S. attorney dropping the assault charges against our agent. That is pure nonsense right there, pure nonsense.”
U.S. citizenship: ‘Does it matter anymore?’
Cabrera pointed to a video taken by a trucker passing through a Border Patrol checkpoint in Texas that also reflects the low morale.
As WND reported, Travis Pope of Dayton, Texas, posted on Twitter a video recorded by his I-CAM eyeglasses showing an agent asking him if he was a U.S. citizen.
When Pope asked the unidentified agent if being a U.S. citizen was important anymore, the agent responded: “Not anymore, unfortunately.”
Cabrera said the frustration expressed by the agent in the Texas trucker’s video is “an accurate cross-section of the Border Patrol.”
“We’re letting everybody in anyway, so,” Cabrera said.
He clarified that agents aren’t going to resign or stop doing their job, but “the morale is not there and the Border Patrol service is not behind its agents.”