May 19, 2006
Emily Ryan
Enid Doggett
(202) 639-6419

Homeland Security Union Responds to Border Shooting

(Washington)—As the union representing Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection officers, including the two officers involved in the San Ysidro border shooting, the American Federation of Government Employees today issued the following statement:

“AFGE regrets the loss of life that resulted from yesterday’s shooting. However, we believe that the two officers involved—one Customs and Border Protection, the other Border Patrol—were doing what they were trained to do, protect the safety of this nation.

“While in performance of their duties, Border Patrol agents began investigating a possible alien smuggling activity. The agents alerted Customs and Border Protection officers at the border, who then were able to stop the subject vehicle as it approached the border crossing. Both a CBP and Border Patrol officer approached the vehicle, and its driver attempted to run them over. The officers then were forced to fire in order to stop the threat, as they were trained to do.

“Almost immediately after the shooting the officers secured AFGE attorneys, and the union began investigating the incident.

“The circumstances of this event are tragic. It also forces us to look at a critical problem—the lack of 6(c) full retirement benefits for CBP officers. If the officers had been injured or killed in the line of duty, the CBP officer’s family would not have received the same benefits as the Border Patrol agent's, even though they were engaged in the same conflict.

“It is unimaginable that two officers who received the same training, have the same duties, and both fired their weapons would not receive the same benefit coverage. The Department of Homeland Security is trying to nickel and dime these men and women who put their lives at risk every day, and the result is that DHS is losing the best and the brightest officers who can find full benefits at the local and state levels.

“Unfortunate as this incident is, it should provide Congress with enough fortitude to enact H.R. 4044, which would address long-standing problems that have hampered the effectiveness of frontline officers. The bill, introduced last year by Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas) also includes the text of legislation long advocated by Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.) in H.R. 1002 to provide full law enforcement retirement benefits to all federal officers required to carry a gun and wear a badge.”

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