U.S. Border Patrol officers more closely resemble crossing guards than law enforcement officials. The latest and most obscene indication regarding the futility of their existence is the multi-million dollar lawsuit filed against a Texas deputy by two illegal aliens whom he tried to stop. The illegals are pursuing a civil rights case against the deputy and seeking damages for “medical bills, related pain, and mental anguish” that resulted from the bullet fragments that struck them while inside a van that was illegally smuggling them across the border.
The deputy, Gilmer Hernandez, claimed that after he noticed at least eight people lying down in the van he stopped for running a red light, the driver tried to flee and nearly mowed Hernandez down. Upon realizing the van’s effort to get away, the deputy fired four shots he claims to have aimed at the van’s rear tires, worrying that the driver might turn the van on him. Despite support from his superior, Sheriff Don Letsinger, several Texas congressman and a departmental investigation that corroborated Hernandez’ account that he was following “the letter of the law,” Hernandez was sentenced to one year in prison for use of excessive force and fined over $10,000 in damages – for doing his job.
Unfortunately, Hernandez’ case is becoming more common. Early last year Border Patrol agents Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos were also convicted for use of excessive force when they shot at an illegal alien attempting to smuggle more than 700 pounds of marijuana into the U.S. They were sentenced to 11 years in prison after they were prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton – the same attorney who prosecuted Hernandez. The uniformed officers working to protect our borders already have a thankless job and that we have failed to show them adequate support is worthy of our embarrassment. This kind of immorality that has not only been permitted, but encouraged, seriously undermines the capability of border enforcement officials.
The effects of such cases against agents being successful are two-fold: Border Patrol officers must now inhibit those reactions that they have been trained to have, often jeopardizing their own safety, and those who seek to unlawfully enter the U.S. are encouraged by the powerlessness of our Border Patrol.
Despite continued surges in border troops since the 1980s, the number of foreign-born immigrants illegally entering the U.S. continues in high numbers. Cases such as Deputy Hernandez’ encourages illegal entry into the U.S. – a country where one is not always obligated to reveal citizenship status to prospective employers, healthcare providers or police. It’s a place where one can even file criminal charges against the law enforcement staff that tried to prevent illegal entry.
That U.S. lawmakers have gone so far out of their way to “protect” the rights and comfort of those individuals who have demonstrated such a serious lack of respect for the country’s laws is ironic. This kind of tyranny of the minority often negates the stated objective of our government, namely, the greater good.
Cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Austin, San Diego and Houston have “sanctuary policies,” which generally prohibit the police from reporting immigration violations to federal authorities. This means that a repeat offender, who is here illegally, can continue to commit crimes in the U.S. when released from jail because he is now less likely to be deported.
The reason cities prohibit their police officers and other employees from immigration reporting and enforcement has less to do with a deep commitment to the expansion of civil rights and much more to do with politics. At the core of these decisions is, like nearly everything else in immigration policy, the sheer amount of illegal immigrants residing here. The population of illegal aliens and their legal offspring has grown so large that public officials are terrified of alienating them, even if exercising this caution comes at the expense of ignoring the law and tolerating unnecessary violence. Unfortunately, it seems, at least in this case – immigration pandering trumps public safety.