Trump Endorsement Causes Strife Within Border Patrol Union

Organization says endorsement was about agent safety

The national union that represents Border Patrol agents is drawing criticism about its March endorsement of presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Some of that criticism is coming from within the rank-and-file of the union, as agents question their own organization.

The vice president of the National Border Patrol Council said the organization endorsed Trump because he was the only candidate focused on border security - an issue that directly impacts agent safety.

"This endorsement was based on one facet and one facet alone," said Shawn Moran, VP of the National Border Patrol Council. "It was about increased border security and that's why we endorsed Donald Trump for president."

Some rank-and-file border patrol agents have questioned their own union.

In Texas, a local union tried to disavow itself from the endorsement, an effort that failed by one vote.

The issue is also raising concerns among immigrant rights advocates, who say Trump's comments show a lack of respect toward Mexican nationals and toward immigrants.

"The specific concern is that Mr. Trump has used hateful rhetoric. He has made disparaging comments about Mexican nationals that overgeneralize," said Pedro Rios, the director of the American Friends Service Committee.

Moran said presidential candidates making comments that offend some is not unheard of, stressing the decision was about agent safety.

"I believe that if you look into everything that every candidate has ever said, you could find something to disagree with and that would paint that candidate in a poor light," Moran said.

Moran said 122 agents have lost their lives in the line of duty since the organization's inception. In the last 10 years, 30 agents have died in the line of duty.

Immigrant rights advocates say 46 people have lost their lives after encounters with BP agents since 2010. That's the year agents were captured on video torturing Anastasio Rojas by using a Taser gun on him repeatedly, as he begged for mercy before dying.

Rios, who has worked with immigrants for decades, said amping up the divisive rhetoric on the topic of immigration is not just unnecessary, but possibly dangerous.

"If they are endorsing someone with that hateful rhetoric, then suddenly, we question whether the agents themselves believe this hateful rhetoric," said Rios. "I think it places a lot of questions and a lot of needless tension in the community."

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