In the aftermath of a shooting of a U.S. Border Patrol on June 12, residents and agents are urging the Trump administration once again to fortify the southern border. National Border Patrol Council vice-president Art Del Cueto said hold outs from the Obama administration have ensured the border remains unsafe and porous.
The unidentified agent was shot while investigating sensor activity on foot near Ruby Road and Chimney Canyon, south of Arivaca, Arizona.
The injured agent, a 21 year Border Patrol veteran, called for emergency assistance from his patrol vehicle’s service radio at approximately 4:30 a.m., on Tuesday.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, initial indications are that the agent was attacked by an unknown number of assailants, one of whom fired several shots at the agent in close proximity. The agent was struck several times and it is believed that he returned fire.
The agent, an experienced paramedic, was able to administer self-care and reach his vehicle. “I think this guy is a real hero,” said Del Cueto. “He received several bullet wounds and when he regained consciousness he administered an IV to himself,” until tactical teams arrived.
The Border Patrol Tactical unit was immediately deployed by Air and Marine aircraft to the area where they located and arrested multiple subjects illegally present in the United States, though it is unknown if the subjects are connected to this incident at this time.
In an interview on the James T. Harris radio show, Del Cueto said he knew that “there were several people arrested in the area, and I know they’re looking at them to see if any of them were involved in this. What I am concerned is that because they were so close to the border they’ve already made their way south.”
“It’s a very porous part of the border,” said Del Cueto describing the scene of the crime, “and there were other illegals there nearby. I’m not sure of the total that they arrested, but they arrested several people that were just illegals to begin with, and they’re checking if any of them have to do with the shooting, but like I said my worry is that because it’s so close to the border, I’m concerned that the people who were involved with the shooting have already made their way south.”
“The area where he was at is notorious for drugs,” said Del Cueto referring to the injured agent. “I mean we’re talking about the Tucson Sector. We still lead the nation by a lot. Close to 50 percent of all drugs that come into the country are seized by the Tucson Sector agents and this is obviously an area we are worried about. The individual, who owns land there, has been asking, and asking, and begging almost for a better barrier between Mexico and the United States in the area where he resides,” said Del Cueto referring to Jim Chilton, a well-regarded southern Arizona rancher. “He will attest to the fact that the amount of drugs that are coming through there is continuous and in large quantities.”
“This is a big opportunity though,” said Del Cueto. “Fortunately it is an eye-opener, where people can see that there is a need for a better barrier there.”
Harris asked Del Cueto about reports that illegal border crossings are currently extremely high. He responded emphatically, “James. This is what happens. When President Trump first took over, the number of people coming into our country illegally hit a huge, huge low. I think they were the lowest in 45 years, and that is when Customs and Border Protection needed to take this whole stance of zero tolerance. That is when they needed to take this tough stance.”
“I remember when President Brandon Judd,” Del Cueto said referring to the National Border Patrol Council president, “specifically telling the leaders in Border Patrol ‘now is the time you guys need to get ahead of this. The numbers are low; the lowest they have been in 45 years.’ Problem is, and I have said it many times – we have too many Obama holdovers within our agency. They did not listen to what they were being told. They didn’t listen to the numbers. They haven’t changed anything within our policies. Nothing – and the criminal element quickly caught on,” said Del Cueto. “The Border Patrol leaders aren’t doing anything about it anyway. So President Trump single-handedly lowered those numbers, and the leaders in Border Patrol failed to execute and do the right thing.”
The FBI is leading the investigation with the assistance of DHS Office of Inspector General, CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility and the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office.