• George Farag

Stop Insulting the People Who Protect Us

Department of Homeland Security (#DHS), agents work hard to implement laws that are created by congress. It is not an easy job. For border protection and immigration enforcement officers along the southern border it is particularly difficult. Their work is tough, dangerous, and sadly thankless.

Last week I traveled home to #JerseyCity to attend my brother’s wedding. I was traveling with my sister-in-law, Lina, and her infant daughter. We arrived in John F. Kennedy Airport in New York and the customs line was immense. We finally arrived at the Customs and Border Protection officer. I gave him my American passport and the documents for Lina and her daughter. Lina is not an American citizen. She is going through the immigration process and has a “green card.”

The officer welcomed us and went through our documents. There was an issue with Lina’s documentation that required more questioning and clarification. As we discussed this issue with officer I heard a woman who was still standing in line say, “they’re giving everyone a hard time, they’re all Trump cronies.”

She was apparently talking about the border patrol officer who was interviewing us, but why? Maybe she was tired and cranky after waiting in line for so long. But let’s be clear. The agent was doing his job. Border patrol agents are federal law enforcement officers under the Department of Homeland Security. They make sure that laws are observed when people and products enter the United States. It was his job to make sure Lina’s documents were legally correct to allow her to enter the country.

Sadly, this woman at JFK was repeating comments that our own public servants have used. They insult our border patrol and immigration officers. For example, in July 2019 Representative #JesusGarcia of Illinois called former acting #ICE Director #TomHoman a racist who did not care of non-white children. Representative #RashidaTlaib of Michigan also called Homan ruthless and inhumane.

These refrains from political thought leaders are having rippling affects in the street. The New York Times reported that a Border Patrol agent in Tucson said he was called a “sellout” and a “kid killer.” Some border patrol agents are scared to have lunch in public places while in uniform.

I spent time with customs officers and other front-line border personnel. Part of my training as a Consular Officer with the U.S. Diplomatic corps included training at a port of entry. I shadowed #CBP officers. I observed the procedures they follow and systems they use to protect our borders. I saw how they interact with people entering the United States and ensure compliance with our laws.

My time with CBP officers gave me a greater sense of appreciation of the hard work that they do to protect the us. I was particularly impressed with their professional and compassionate performance of their duties. They take pride in their own individual efforts to protect our country.

On a more personal note my brother is a corrections officer with the Department of Homeland Security. Each day he wakes up early, puts on his badge, and leaves the comfort of his family to make sure our community is safer. My brother, and thousands like him, feel a personal obligation to protect our communities.

Throughout the chain of command of all DHS agencies people work hard to implement laws that congress created. It is not an easy job. For border protection and immigration enforcement officers along the southern border it is particularly difficult. Their work is tough, dangerous, and thankless.

Each day they must look into the eyes of adults and children who are desperate, scared, and exhausted. They come face-to-face with the dead bodies of people who did not survive the trip. Every day they personally deal with what most of us only read about in the newspapers or watch short clips on YouTube.

Congress is not helping them. Congressional delegations from all over the country visit the southern border. They go on two or three day field trips. They return to Washington traumatized with what they experience. They forget that the officers deal with these brutal circumstances all day, every day.

The legislators who attack our DHS officers are demonstrating a lack of understanding of separation of powers. We study this doctrine in high school. Border officers may feel empathetic with the plight of the illegal immigrants. But it is their job to implement the law created by congress. Border officers are not monsters. They are servants in the executive branch who enforce the law.

Congress is part of the legislative branch. They can change the laws. If they do not like the laws that the border agents are implementing they can work to change them. Congress can inquire to make sure that agencies are not breaking the law. But it is not acceptable that members of congress berate border officers for implementing laws that congress created.

Representatives Garcia, Tlaib, and others need to work on laws that safeguard America and stop insulting the people who protect us.

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