Border chief hit for bul­ly­ing; ‘cor­ners’ agents to dis­credit their votes

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Jerry Seper

U.S. Border Pa­trol Chief David V. Aguilar is be­ing de­nounced for “in­tim­i­da­tion tac­tics” in send­ing a top aide to seek a “show of hands” among field agents for those who sup­port the chief, who re­ceived a unan­i­mous “no con­fi­dence” vote from lead­ers of the agency’s rank and file.

The Na­tional Border Pa­trol Coun­cil (NBPC), which rep­re­sents all 11,000 of the Border Pa­trol’s non-su­per­vi­sory field agents, called unan­nounced ap­pear­ances two weeks ago by Jeff Self, the se­nior as­so­ci­ate Border Pa­trol chief, at morn­ing brief­ings at field of­fices in Tuc­son and No­gales, Ariz., a pub­lic re­la­tions ploy aimed at dis­cred­it­ing the no-con­fi­dence vote.

“Chief Aguilar has de­cided to im­ple­ment in­tim­i­da­tion tac­tics in an ef- fort to un­der­mine the vote of no con­fi­dence,” the NBPC’s Lo­cal 2544 in Tuc­son said in a no­tice to its mem­bers. “He has dis­patched one of his as­so­ciates to ad­dress musters and to cor­ner rank-and-file agents at their work­places.

“Our ad­vice at this time is that you refuse to take part in any ‘show of hands’ or any other method that may sin­gle you out for re­tal­i­a­tion,” it said. “You can­not be forced to par­tic­i­pate.”

Since the Border Pa­trol op­er­ates on a mil­i­tary-style ba­sis, the no­tice said, “we all know most agents are not go­ing to tell Aguilar or one of his as­so­ciates to their face that they don’t sup­port him. He knows that and will use it to full PR ad­van­tage.”

The no­tice de­scribed the unan­nounced ap­pear­ances as an “ob­vi­ous and bla­tant” at­tempt by the “Aguilar regime to il­le­gally by­pass the union and present its bi­ased point of view di­rectly to the agents.” It said the rank and file will not risk re­tal­i­a­tion by pub­licly op­pos­ing Chief Aguilar.

“If th­ese folks are re­ally un­der the im­pres­sion that rank-and-file agents sup­port Aguilar, they need their heads ex­am­ined,” the no­tice said. “Along the same lines, if they re­ally think that most agents will will­ingly ex­pose them­selves to re­tal­i­a­tion by stat­ing pub­licly that they op­pose Aguilar, they should have a re-ex­am­i­na­tion.

“They know that most agents, fear­ing re­tal­i­a­tion from man­age­ment, will not pub­licly com­mit ca­reer sui­cide,” it said.

The NBPC passed an un­prece­dented no-con­fi­dence res­o­lu­tion in Fe­bru­ary, unan­i­mously ap­proved by all 100 mem­bers of the coun­cil lead­er­ship ac­cus­ing Chief Aguilar of “shame­lessly pro­mot­ing” Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion pro­pos­als for a guest­worker pro­gram that it says would re­ward il­le­gal aliens and en­dan­ger field agents.

The res­o­lu­tion noted a “grow­ing frus­tra­tion among front-line em­ploy­ees with the mis­guided poli­cies and pol­i­tics” of the agency and the re­fusal of its top man­agers — in­clud­ing the chief — to speak out against them. It also ac­cused Chief Aguilar of turn­ing his back on Border Pa­trol agents be­ing tar­geted by fed­eral prose­cu­tors and oth­ers in crim­i­nal civil rights case “for do­ing their jobs.”

Chief Aguilar has not re­sponded pub­licly to the vote. His of­fice yes­ter­day did not re­turn tele­phone in­quiries or a list of five ques­tions sent in an e-mail con­cern­ing the visit by As­so­ci­ate Chief Self.

Sev­eral agents on May 10 ques- tioned why Chief Aguilar has not sought to talk with agents di­rectly or to the NBPC if he wants to im­prove com­mu­ni­ca­tions with the rank and file.

Two weeks ago, U.S. Cus­toms and Border Pro­tec­tion Com­mis­sioner W. Ralph Basham, who over­sees the Border Pa­trol, en­dorsed the chief and called the vote “de­ri­sive, detri­men­tal and bla­tantly un­fair.” He said he did not think rank-and-file agents had lost con­fi­dence in the chief.

But the NBPC said in the no­tice that polls it has con­ducted, along with meet­ings with agents, have pro­duced “zero sup­port” for Chief Aguilar and that “the amount of con­tempt field agents have for Aguilar far ex­ceeds that shown to any pre­vi­ous man­ager in the Border Pa­trol or [Im­mi­gra­tion and Nat­u­ral­iza­tion Ser­vice] for the last 20 years.”

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