The last blog post I wrote for this site addressed the issue of the child immigration crisis along the US southern border. The crisis involves thousands of women and children fleeing Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador—all crossing the border into the US.
The media reports that since October nearly 50,000 children crossed the border without their parents only to be detained and warehoused by federal law enforcement agents. To be more specific, they are being detained and incarcerated by US Border Patrol agents and warehoused in restricted federal facilitates.
While the crisis has been constructed by political elites as “humanitarian” in nature, the state’s response has been decidedly a criminal justice response, with children being detained and supervised by federal law enforcement agents as they await judicial processing that will, more than likely, result in their deportation. One has to wonder how well these children will be treated by federal law enforcement officials and how adequately equipped the Border Patrol is to carry out a humanitarian mission?
A recent article published in the Huffington Post provides insights into these questions. Journalist Igor Bobic recently reported that the labor union representing US Border Patrol agents posted a racist rant mocking the undocumented children. The rant clearly shows that Border Patrol agents resent their role in addressing the crisis particularly the humanitarian aspect of the assignment. A screen shot of the union’s Twitter post is reproduced below.
Of course one has to keep the post in perspective. It was only one post and one racist comment right? Not really! This was a post that came from the union that represents all US Border Patrol agents, an expression of their collective sentiment about their work and role in the crisis.
Further evidence of the mind set of Border Patrol agents and their inability to embrace a “humanitarian” mission, were the remarks of the Union Vice President, Shawn Moran. According to Bobic’s report, Moran appeared on Fox News to tell viewers that:
“There’s a reason that we are ranked at the bottom of the federal workforce in morale… And it’s because our agents are treated like grade-schoolers, not allowed to make decisions on our own, micromanaged. We live in some godforsaken towns on the Southwest border and just don’t have the type of morale that we need to effectively do this job. It is demoralizing the way we are treated and to see things like this… Our agents should be out there patrolling the border, enforcing the laws. But instead we’ve got them processing, which is a necessary duty, but they’re being used basically as the hired help.”
There certainly is an immigration crisis going on here, but there is also a crisis of values going on within the Border Patrol. It is clear that at least as expressed by their union leadership, Border Patrol agents resent their jobs, find providing assistance to children in need demeaning and see themselves as not much more than the “ hired help.” Little wonder why they might be micro-managed.
Given the history of this agency, one mired in scandal, corruption, brutality, sexual assaults as well as their publicly professed values, can one really believe it is capable of providing humanitarian assistance to undocumented women and children of color?
And, by the way, Border Patrol agents are the people’s hired help.
Victor E. Kappeler, Ph.D.
Associate Dean and Foundation Professor
College of Justice and Safety
School of Justice Studies
Eastern Kentucky University
Igor Bobic (2014). “Border Patrol Union Mocks Immigrant Children On Twitter.” Huffington Post, June 14, 2014. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/14/border-patrol-mocks_n_5495316.html