New Nation News presents a
Border Patrol Agent's letter to the head of the INS
"The Border Patrol is now conducting hiring boards in Spanish
and hiring agents who CANNOT SPEAK ENGLISH"
This is a rare look at the opinion of the Border Patrol's "Rank & File".
TO: James Ziglar
SUBJECT: CORE VALUES
I agree with you that the INS "is at a defining juncture in its
century-long history of service to the nation." If it is true,
as you say, that "no organization can truly succeed without established
core values," then change should indeed be afoot, because right
now the term "core values" is oxymoronic when applied to the
INS. We are clearly not succeeding in our mission, so by your reasoning
we have no core values at all.
I work for the INS, as a Border Patrol Agent, and along with most of my colleagues, I discern a large chasm between what the INS practices and what they preach. There are many examples of this phenomenon, which seems to permeate the entire organization. In the U.S., the individual is supposed to be "king," and we are supposed to succeed, as individuals, based solely on merit, that is, performance. At the Border Patrol, this is clearly not the case. The Border Patrol is now conducting hiring boards in Spanish and hiring agents who CANNOT SPEAK ENGLISH, either because the INS is desperate for "diversity" or desperate for new agents, to replace the thousands who quit (or are trying to leave) for other jobs with other agencies.
To me allowing individuals to take their hiring board in Spanish is personally unacceptable. Is this the United States, or Mexico? Has INS management completely lost their senses? Concerning the vital issue of retainment, you must be aware that a large number of Border Patrol Agents have applied for jobs with the FAA as Air Marshals. If 50% of all FBI agents did the same thing, all hell would break loose and the public would demand the government "do something." At the INS, however, this potential hemorrhage of agents is considered normal and there is no meaningful response to the minuscule level of morale that defines our organization. The official line appears to be, "We'll just hire more agents." Patrolling the border effectively, and maintaining officer safety (my primary concern, anyway, is staying alive), requires that our agency accrue experience by retaining their personnel. Do you think that 5 new trainees know as much as a journeyman agent with 5 years' experience? Do you think it's either sensible, profitable, or safe to create conditions where the turnover rate requires each line station to be permanently training new hires? Do you think that any agency (or corporation-your experience in the private sector must inform you about this) where well over * the employees want to leave is not in a crisis?
What core value is represented by this phenomenon? Disdain for current employees? Indifference? If you don't even attempt to retain current employees, what message does this send to the newcomers? We've got trainees at our station who are still on probation and are already looking to leave! Most of all, this constant turnover is DANGEROUS: for the current agents, for the trainees, and anyone else who gets between us and the smugglers. If the INS doesn't care about our physical safety, what else matters?
From down here on the ground level there is a crisis. There are many reasons for this almost complete dearth of morale, but the primary responsibility for its lack lies with INS and Border Patrol management. You guys are supposedly in charge, so you are responsible for the management, performance, and morale of the agency.
One of the most damaging aspects of INS "culture" is the agenda-driven management, which revolves around political correctness, appeasing lobbyists and Hispanic rights groups, even straight-up appeasement of the Mexican government, who get more public support from INS management than Patrol Agents.
The INS is supposed to be at the beck and call of U.S. citizens, not advocates for illegal aliens and foreign governments. As for political correctness, we all know that the INS is specifically and openly targeting so-called "minorities" for hiring and advancement, particularly women and black-Americans. I worked as a Border Patrol recruiter for almost two years and was specifically directed by INS personnel management to focus my recruiting efforts to target woman and blacks.
My core value is this: to hire, train, and retain the best people and performers, regardless of their sex, color, or any other qualifying determinant. Hire the best, dump the rest. Nobody elected our government or appointed INS management to promote a social, political, or other type of agenda, and it shouldn't be the mission of the INS to play social scientist using its employees as guinea pigs. The INS hires and promotes people based on which group they are in, not because of what they achieve as individuals. This is un-American, counterproductive, a morale killer, and just plain wrong.
Further, the whole concept of "minority groups" and victims/victimizers is divisive and insulting to the very groups it's supposed to help. Women, blacks, Hispanics, even "Scottish-Americans" like me, don't need special recognition of their limitations to "level the playing field" on behalf of some half-baked theory. Do you think that a woman should be promoted before me, even if she lacks certain qualifications and experience, just because someone (everyone?) at the INS thinks it's their job to rectify centuries of perceived discrimination against women? Do you think that this approach works? That women promoted this way will feel that they earned their promotion? What about more qualified people who have been leapfrogged in this manner? Doesn't their legitimate grievance in such cases cancel out the so-called benefits of this dubious social engineering? This approach is a backdoor way of saying, "You can't cut it without special recognition and help." It's patronizing and insulting. Women, blacks, and other "minorities" are not "minorities," they are citizens. Let everyone stand on their own two feet, as INDIVIDUALS, and be judged by their performance and behavior, not because of their membership in a group that management decided needs remedial help in life. Further, I don't see why my career chances should be annihilated by someone else's political agenda. I'm not a pawn to be used in the "re-engineering" of American society, I'm a human being.
In this way the INS is contributing to the balkanization of America, where involuntary membership in a sub-group is apparently more important than individual achievement. The real genius of the American experiment is that it has often allowed individuals to achieve their potential despite, not because of, their group identity. The current INS policy is anti-American and results in so much rancor and cynicism it cancels out the so-called value of your bogus "diversity" agenda, therefore damaging the very institution you claim to be assisting. If you really want to lead, instead of bottom-feeding at the PC trough, come out and declare your intention to create a meritocracy, where performance and achievement trump the destructive shibboleths of political correctness.
Dump the quotas and the rainbow-coalition management practices. Achievement of a real meritocracy would help create and sustain the retention of current employees, especially those that work, who are fleeing the Border Patrol like rats from a burning ship. If the INS really cared about its employees in the Patrol, it would put its money where its mouth is and: raise journeyman pay to the GS-12 level change our series designation from 1896 to 1811 or 1801 make provisions for hardship pay, language pay, and hazard duty pay raise the pre-employment requirements, not lower them require a yearly P.E.B. (Physical Evaluation Board) to maintain fitness stop sending trainees to desirable locations/stations to save money on paid moves allow us to enforce the INA (Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952), instead of looking for excuses to do nothing. Start backing the Border Patrol aggressively and publicly; the lack of public support totally erodes morale and has become a safety issue. When we arrest illegal aliens now, many of them question our "right" to do so, either by actively resisting arrest or making sarcastic comments, which can lead to active resistance if not contained. Imagine that, Mexican and other nationals questioning whether or not we have the right to arrest them for breaking the laws of this country. This is pathetic, and will be more so when the next Patrol Agent gets killed on duty because the group of aliens he arrested knows the U.S. government won't back up its own agents.
This dangerous atmosphere stems directly from INS management's refusal to support their own mission. What core value does that represent? BETRAYAL? Illegal aliens, criminals, smugglers, and terrorists get the benefit of the doubt, misplaced sympathy from management, and are coddled by policies that are guaranteed to undermine the INA by increasing the flow of illegal aliens and criminals into this country. (e.g., releasing juveniles, family members, and pregnant females on their own recognizance prior to their immigration hearing-we all know they will NEVER show up at their hearing). Patrol Agents, on the other hand, are undercut, undermined, underfunded, under equipped, underpaid, and overworked. More and more illegal aliens and criminals challenge our authority on the river, at night, in a group, in dangerous situations that often require physical force to maintain LIFE, and the INS' response is to promise that every alien who makes any allegations whatsoever about mistreatment will get investigators hounding PA's for months at a time. The whole Border Safety Initiative is nothing but a sop to the Mexican government, so our government (sic) can reassure them that our law enforcement personnel are making the border safe for law-breakers. You help prop up the corrupt Mexican government by allowing them to dictate American policy. You should be telling Vicente Fox that there's an easy, safe, risk-free way to travel from Mexico to the United States: it's called a port-of-entry. This whole organization is in denial about illegal immigration. Are you for or against it? Are you for enforcement, or amnesty? Why doesn't management come straight out and say what their intentions are?
This isn't a garden party down here on the frontier. Contrary to our government's insistence, the U.S./Mexican border is a hostile environment rife with corruption, violence, anger, poverty, aggression, and danger. Despite our government's kowtowing to Jorge Castaneda, LULAC, La Raza, Vicente Fox, and all the many "American" fellow-travelers who advocate law-breaking while taking cynical advantage of American's generosity and freedom...and despite all the talk about "cooperation" and "harmony" with Mexico, I've got news for everyone who doesn't live and work down here on the border, like I do 24/7/365: this isn't a friendly place, Mexico is not our "friend," and the Border Patrolman's job is dangerous and difficult. Mexicans don't like gringos, and they don't like the U.S.; they just use us as a safety valve for their own totally screwed-up country. When are you going to publicly and consistently recognize that, to assist in making our jobs just a little bit safer? We're not trying to maintain non-existent harmony down here, we're trying to enforce the law. The INS needs a sea-change in values.
Recognizing this frontier for what it is, rather for what some would have us believe it is, would be a step in the right direction. As for creating a "security perimeter" with Canada and Mexico, as Mr. Fox has proposed...this would enable the Mexicans to advance their own agenda while excluding all other countries in the hemisphere, thus "regularizing" illegal immigration from Mexico. It's nothing but a selfish reaction to the events of 9/11, which have threatened the Mexican's cozy relationship vis a vis the U.S. You said in your letter that "the extended hours you have been asked to work-in many cases around the clock-require numerous sacrifices, none bigger than not being able to spend time with your family and friends...." The fact is, The Border Patrol always works around the clock, all day and all night, all year, on holidays, weekends, midnights, around the clock. We are NEVER off-duty. We always sacrifice family time and everything else considered "normal": World Series games, the Super Bowl, civic meetings, church attendance, political participation, Little League games w/our children, school activities, holiday festivities, and all normal social interaction with neighbors and friends, etc. If America is as "pro-family" as our leaders say it is, how come our permanent sacrifice of vital family time isn't recognized via better pay and benefits, let alone recognized by management? Our schedule changes every week, every month, all year and every year. It takes a heavy toll on our bodies, minds, families, and lives. Why is it that we are paid at the GS-09 level, while sacrificing everything that characterizes a normal life or routine, in service to the nation, while criminal investigators, deportation officers, and other INS employees work a cozy 9 to 5 gig/weekends and holidays off, and yet get paid at the GS-12 or 13 level? The bigger the sacrifice, the smaller the pay. Why is this? Is it because you think our job is easier than working a desk? Anytime you want to mosey on down here to the line and work with us for a month or so on the midnight shift...is fine with me. Have at it. No cameras, no reporters, no press, no glory, no CNN, no posse of managers and hangers on, no flunkies, flacks or PIO's. Just you and your security detail. We'll show you what the border is like, how is "works," and how hard we work to protect this country. How hard it is to stay up all night, every night for one month on the midnight shift, while trying to maintain some semblance of normal family life. We're sacrificing family time not for a month or two, but for our whole careers, most of our adult lives. INS management should be fighting to improve our conditions and pay; instead we are ignored, seemingly an embarrassment to the service. The "bad guys" on the border who stop the poor and oppressed from finding their destiny. We also get nickel-and-dimed by INS bureaucrats who are constantly chipping away at our benefits, desk jockeys who couldn't do my job if they wanted to.
Unless this changes, you will continue to lose experienced agents by the thousands. Do you care about that? If so, what are you going to do to stem the tide of "refugees," besides sugarcoating these problems under cover of "core values"? We don't want to feel good about abstract values: we want better pay, better benefits, better equipment so we can stay ALIVE, recognition/respect/public support from INS management, and mostly to be allowed to do our job, which is to protect the citizens and property of the United States by aggressively enforcing the laws as written. No more free passes for anyone who can make it across the Rio Grande under cover of night, whether they be campesinos, dope dealers, terrorists, or maids. You can't pick and choose. Either the border is secure, or its not. Our mission is about the core value of law enforcement, which is to enforce the law. Right now, the INS is failing to do its duty as prescribed by law.
I've got about 5 more pages written out, but what's the point? In the INS, nothing ever changes, at least for the rank and file. There's a lot of wind, but the vessel never seems to go anywhere. A couple of years ago INS management spent thousands, if not millions, of dollars spreading the word to Border Patrol Agents: "Across the board GS-11s are a DONE DEAL." They didn't even have Congressional approval or funding for such a move. It was all talk. They kept telling us about our imminent pay raise and how LEA pay would benefit us, when we all knew that LEA pay is basically unlimited, unpaid overtime, slave labor for federal agents. Then they yanked the whole program without a word. Ah, no promotion after all. No LEA pay either, although that's a good thing. No explanations. No nothing. What was the point of this campaign, besides giving the top-heavy management of the INS useless work that played with the aspirations, ambitions, and goals of Border Patrol Agents? Talk about patronizing. Furthermore, my fellow agents and I are tired of being treated like bums by Border Patrol management. They are primarily responsible for the total lack of morale at my station, always denigrating agents, criticizing their character and performance, handing out details like candy to their minions, while simultaneously behaving like drunken visigoths themselves. The Border Patrol is a cesspool; are you going to do something to clean it up?
Maybe the air is pretty rarified in D.C., and you guys think we're just GS-09's who can't think for ourselves. If so, you're wrong. We're not idiots. We don't need bureaucrats and managers to tell us what's good for us. We know what's good for us, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist, or a social scientist for that matter, to figure it out. Basically we get NO RESPECT from either INS or Border Patrol management. Not only that, but from where I'm standing, there is NO management in the Border Patrol. It's not even bad management, it's a total lack of anything that could be called management. Everything is personal, nothing is professional. Obsequious slobs are promoted, while the hard workers are left to rot. The "diversity" agenda takes precedence over everything. We don't even enforce the INA, I guess because it's not fair to pick on the poor "minorities" who are breaking the law by entering the U.S. We're all racists, I guess. Top management does whatever they want, and gets away with it. When the rank and file do their job, they get hammered for it. I'm tired of it. You asked for contributions to your Initiative. I hope this letter, born out of 4 years of mounting frustration and that of my many hard-working colleagues, helps enlighten you about the massive problems of morale and job satisfaction that plague the INS and the Border Patrol. I don't expect INS management to do ANYTHING about this, but I'm tired of complaining in silence. And if you think I'm the only guy who feels this way, a lone wolf who's been out in the sun too much and cooked his brain cells, come on down to Eagle Pass and have a talk with the rank and file, the BACKBONE of the Patrol. Send the managers, supervisors, and other "bosses" out of the room, and talk to Patrol Agents one by one. You'll see that far from being the only one, I'm just one of many. I'm fed up, and so are my compadres. Don't send us any more feel-good flyers talking about "core values" until you start treating the sick patient that the INS has become. You can't fix anything unless you admit it's broken first. And let us do our job and deport ALL illegal aliens, including juveniles, families, Mexicans, and all the other people who take advantage of the total lack of willpower in Washington D.C., whether at the INS or in the halls of Congress. we're ready to our job. When are you guys going to get on board?
P.S. You told Congress that the INS couldn't account for 6 or 7 of the 9/11 terrorists, e.g., how they entered the U.S. and managed to stay here undetected. There's a good chance that they crossed the southwest border illegally along with the millions of others who do it every year. We've been catching middle-easterners and Muslims down here with regularity since I got here. How many do you think escaped detection and made it in? To protect America you've got to tell the Mexicans that the party is over: no more open border for illegals from Mexico or anywhere else. It's either security for U.S. citizens, or millions more illegal aliens, criminals, and terrorists crossing into the U.S. You can't have it both ways. The choice is stark, yet simple. It's time to either stand up for AMERICA, or surrender to forces that will eventually destroy this country. I value America and its citizens. What do you value?
Posted Tuesday, July 25, 2006
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