NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles! A spat between Border Patrol agents and their chief during a visit by Homeland Security Secretary Ale
NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!
A spat between Border Patrol agents and their chief during a visit by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is the latest sign of tensions between agents and the Biden administration — whose policies many agents believe are stopping them from keeping the border secure.
U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz was involved in a tense back and forth with agents in Laredo, Texas, Friday, as Mayorkas visited the area. In video shared with Fox News by a Border Patrol source, Ortiz confirmed that “morale is at an all-time low.”
BORDER PATROL AGENTS GET INTO HEATED EXCHANGE WITH LEADERSHIP DURING MAYORKAS VISIT, LEAKED VIDEO SHOWS
Ortiz acknowledged agents’ frustration, with Mayorkas in the room.
“I get it,” Ortiz said. “You come to work, you’re frustrated. You’re upset because you didn’t get the desired outcome that you want. Doesn’t mean you give up.”
As the conversation continued Other agents chimed in that “you keep releasing criminal aliens into the country.”
With the agents seemingly still not satisfied with the answers they were getting, Ortiz asked them, “Why are you guys getting caught up in semantics? … I’ve been doing this job as long as y’all.”
“That’s the problem, chief,” one agent interjected. “For evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. That’s exactly what’s happening here. Good men are doing nothing. You’re allowing illegal aliens to be dropped off in communities.”
Mayorkas appeared to make reference to the exchange in a tweet in which he said that “Challenges and frustrations voiced, solutions proposed, honor and duty to mission paramount.”
The video drew astonishment from Mayorkas’ predecessor, who called the exchange “remarkable.”
“I’ve never seen anything like that where Border Patrol agents are pushing back so aggressively on their leadership,” former acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf said on “Cavuto Live.”
“And I think what is probably most striking from that video, which is if you can see in the background the DHS secretary is standing right there, he does not step up. He does not address any of these concerns from the Border Patrol agents. There’s no vision,” he said. “There’s no leadership. He just stands to the side because he knows he cannot talk to these agents and defend what is going down on the border because of the policies of this administration.”
The exchange came a day after Townhall obtained audio of Mayorkas’ remarks to agents in the Yuma sector, in which an agent reportedly turned his back on the secretary after accusing him of not allowing them to do their jobs.
Another agent reportedly pressed Mayorkas on how agents are unable to patrol the border due to the policies of the Biden administration, while another reportedly said that Yuma was better under President Donald Trump as “everyone was doing their jobs.”
“The job has not gotten any easier over the last few months, and it was very, very difficult throughout 2021,” Mayorkas told the agents, according to Townhall. “I know apprehending families and kids is not what you signed up to do. And now we got a composition that is changing even more with Cubans, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, and the like, it just gets more difficult,”
“I know the policies of this administration are not particularly popular with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, but that’s the reality, and let’s see what we can do within that framework,” Mayorkas added.
MAYORKAS SAYS BORDER CRISIS ‘UNSUSTAINABLE’ AND ‘WE’RE GOING TO LOSE’ IN LEAKED AUDIO
As for the agent who turned his back on him, Mayorkas reportedly told the agent, “You can turn your back on me, but I won’t turn my back on you.”
A DHS spokesperson told Fox News that Mayorkas had invited frank discussion, that the point of his trip was to hear from agents unfiltered and that had a number of constructive discussions already on the three-day trip to the area.
“Secretary Mayorkas’s priority for this trip is to meet directly with the workforce to hear about their experiences and address their needs,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
“Border Patrol Agents are dedicated to their mission, and demonstrate tremendous bravery and life-saving skills in the performance of their duties. Secretary Mayorkas welcomes candor during these conversations, and appreciates and respects the opinions of each member of the CBP workforce,” they said.
That was not the first time audio has been leaked from private meetings between Mayorkas and the men and women who serve on the frontlines of the crisis at the southern border.
In August, Fox News obtained audio in which Mayorkas admitted that the border crisis was “unsustainable” and “we’re going to lose” if “borders are the first line of defense.”
“A couple of days ago I was down in Mexico, and I said look, you know, if, if our borders are the first line of defense, we’re going to lose and this is unsustainable,” Mayorkas said Thursday, according to the audio. “We can’t continue like this, our people in the field can’t continue and our system isn’t built for it.”
At that point, agents expressed exasperation to the DHS chief.
“For those of us who have been around here long enough … we don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” one agent told Mayorkas. “We’ve had this happen before. We know exactly how to shut it down. We need to make illegal entry illegal.”
Mayorkas was unlikely to have ingratiated himself with agents a month later in September when he fueled a narrative that border agents on horseback “whipped” Haitian migrants — a claim that was quickly debunked.
Mayorkas, unlike President Biden, did not explicitly endorse the whipping narrative, but said that the conduct was “horrifying” and “do not reflect who we are, who we aspire to be for the integrity and values of our truly heroic personnel in the Department of Homeland Security.”
“We know that those images painfully conjured up the worst elements of our nation’s ongoing battle against systemic racism,” he said.
An investigation was also launched into the agents’ behavior, which Mayorkas suggested would be wrapped up quickly. However, it is currently still ongoing.
Fox News’ Bill Melugin and Paul Conner contributed to this report