Rank-and-file Border Patrol agents are furious that they have lost some of their favorite enforcement tools and say that intense public criticism of border shootings has led to a morale crisis, the Los Angeles Times reports. “We lack the political will to enforce the law and allow our agency to be effective,” said National Border Patrol Council spokesman Shawn Moran, in a call with reporters coordinated by the union that represents the agents. Among the most far-reaching and damning accusations from agents working entry points in Arizona, Texas and California was that the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol administration does not want agents to make drug busts and has taken away their ability to do so.
Shane Gallagher, an agent in San Diego, said roving interdiction patrols in which agents would stop suspicious vehicles north of the border were extraordinarily successful at nabbing border crossers with drugs. Those patrols would then create uncomfortable questions for the ports through which the vehicles had just passed, he said. “Now the port of entry has to explain who was in the primary lane, what actions were taken, if the vehicle was inspected, so you can see there's a whole host of implications,” he said. Though rank-and-file agents saw the value in drug interdictions, Gallagher said, agency leadership did not and drastically reduced the number of agents doing such work. The decision to speak with reporters comes as rank-and-file agents have come under intense criticism for their involvement in fatal cross-border shootings, including the slaying of a 15-year-old boy who was walking home from a basketball game in Nogales, Mexico, when he was hit by a bullet fired by an agent on the Arizona side of the border.