"You are not immigration officers. Let me repeat: You are not immigration officers," then-Border Patrol Chief Aguilar said during the meeting, repeating it multiple times before going on to suggest that illegal immigrants are primarily the responsibility of other agencies like U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“As a law enforcement officer, as an American citizen, I care about this group [of illegal immigrants],” he continued, pointing to his drawing board. “As a Border Patrol agent — as chief of the Border Patrol — I don't care enough about this group to impact my responsibilities, your responsibilities."
The agents in the audience were clearly not pleased with the implications of the statement. Several even criticize Aguilar directly over past decisions and for allegedly helping politicians distort the reality of the situation on the border.
“[I]t’s unfortunately in most government work; you have a lot of people higher than us that want to protect their jobs, so they’re going to tell the party line, and they tell you: Play the game, be a team player,” one agent can be heard saying, blaming a lack of agency morale on the “fudging” of numbers, turning a blind eye to illegal border crossings, and more.
“But you know, there’s fallacies being generated on paper and they’re headed to your office, sir,” the agent continued, suggesting that it was a well-known problem among agents. Aguilar responds to the allegations with disbelief, telling the agent that he should report it to the Inspector General. “If that’s happening, somebody needs to be fired,” the border chief said.
The audience was still unimpressed. Another agent chimed in with questions and comments hinting that, not only was Aguilar well aware of the situation, his policy decisions were at least partly responsible for it. “You’re a politician,” the agent charged after a brief back and forth with Aguilar.
The chief goes on to express his outrage at the accusation using foul language. And what sounds like a different agent’s voice later added: “You tend to toe the company line more than we do.” More than a few current and former officers agree.
Border security expert and LNN correspondent Andy Ramirez, who has testified before Congress on the issue, slammed Aguilar’s comments as well. “The most explosive element is that this footage actually exists,” he told The New American. “It shows his arrogance and the crap agents have had to deal with under his so-called leadership all along.”
Ramirez objected to, among other points, Aguilar’s efforts to downplay the seriousness of illegal immigration. The chief’s suggestion that if Border Patrol officers want to apprehend illegal immigrants they should move to ICE was also highly inappropriate, Ramirez said.
“Yet, the agents are not buying it and not taking kindly to having their longstanding traditional mission refocused, which he did in changing the National Border Patrol Strategy in late 2004,” Ramirez continued. “Since 2007 Aguilar has tried to open the border by declassifying illegal aliens as nothing for the BP agents to be concerned about.”
According to Ramirez, who has numerous sources among active and retired Border Patrol agents, officers are fed up with Aguilar’s leadership. Many agents believe the chief should not only have been fired, “but should be prosecuted for obstruction of justice for compromising the borders and ultimately helping criminals circumvent immigration law,” Ramirez told The New American.
“This footage should have the public outraged as it is definitive proof of what agents have worked under, why the hiring of all those agents has defrauded the American taxpayers considering the facts presented in this footage, and that David Aguilar does not care about the 12 million illegal aliens in the U.S. as he personally states,” he added. And that is why America has lost control of its borders to illegal immigrants, human traffickers, drug cartels, and even potential terrorists — all of whom can easily cross the border at will.
Ramirez has a long history of involvement in the debate surrounding border protection. Several years ago, he was even called to testify before a congressional committee in order to counter Aguilar’s claims.
“They knew he lied, so I was brought in by Republicans as ‘the civilian expert on the patrol’ to expose the lies, which I did,” Ramirez explained, noting that he debunked all of the bogus information presented by Aguilar and the Department of Homeland Security. Apparently Democrats, who have long protected Aguilar, threatened to go to a closed session as Ramirez was testifying — at least until Republicans threatened to call in the media.
But the problems on border security are bipartisan, according to Ramirez. “Both Democrats and Republicans are equally responsible for what has taken place on the U.S.-Mexico border, for they both know, and have done absolutely nothing to hold the Bush and Obama Administrations accountable,” he said. “This inaction has ensured Aguilar's continued ascent to the top, after his internally sabotaging an agency known prior to his rapid rise to the top by the motto of ‘Honor First.’ ”
Ramirez also agreed with the agent in the video who characterized Aguilar as a “politician,” noting that in his current role as Commissioner, he is exactly that. And Aguilar has actually served the political class in Washington, D.C., all along, Ramirez contends.
“Sadly, the agency has been sabotaged, and not only has this compromised agent safety, but has compromised the security of the United States itself,” Ramirez noted. Indeed, according to government data presented by LNN, the number of apprehensions on the border has gone down significantly over the last five or six years. And the downward trend began well before recession, the figures show.
Aguilar was already under fire after another portion of the video tape was obtained and released by LNN last year. The footage revealed that border officers were outraged at their boss’s perceived support for so-called “amnesty” — or “comprehensive immigration reform,” as the then-Border Patrol chief put it.
“You openly advocated legalizing all these people, sir,” complained one of the officers in the audience, whose comments were echoed by several others in attendance. Aguilar, relying on semantics, claimed he did not advocate the legalization of all illegal immigrants.
But according to Ramirez and other experts, amnesty is exactly what Aguilar has been supporting — in both his actions and in his words. “Aguilar attempts to take illegal aliens out of the picture and that in itself is proof of his support of amnesty for illegal aliens,” Ramirez said after releasing the most recent footage. “That fully comes to bear when agents challenge his operational decisions that they feel opened the doors for the illegal aliens, though the reality is it's not just illegal aliens who benefit.”
Of course, the problem is not just Aguilar. According to Vice Chairman Zack Taylor of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers (NAFBPO) and numerous others with knowledge of the reality on the border, multiple federal agencies and departments — not to mention political leaders — are also to blame.
“Federal agencies are using environmental laws to keep agents from having unfettered access to the border and to pursue criminals on federal public land once the criminals have crossed,” Taylor told The New American earlier this year. “It is a ploy of the open borders advocates to keep Border Patrol out and let the illegal aliens and drugs in.”
There are an estimated 12 million to 20 million illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States, and according to critics, the Obama administration is essentially doing nothing to counter the problem. Criticism of the federal government’s border failures, however, continues to grow.
The footage below is a key segment of the second day of agent “musters” at the Nogales and Tucson Border Patrol stations. In all, more than 8.5 hours of video — recorded under orders from Aguilar — was obtained by LNN.
Other video segments include Aguilar complaining about media coverage, his justification of Department of Justice prosecutions of Border Patrol agents, vulgarities that could be considered derogatory toward women, and more. One section also features what Ramirez described as a “shameful” presentation by Aguilar and then-Border Patrol Academy Chief Charlie Whitmire.
Andy Ramirez is also the founder and president of the Law Enforcement Officers Advocates Council, the next step in advocacy after his previous organization known as Friends of the Border Patrol. Liberty News Network is an affiliated news group of The John Birch Society.