NBPC Response to New Yorker Article
On February 16, 2017, at 8:46AM Pacific, New Yorker Magazine reporter Jonathan Blitzer contacted NBPC Vice President Shawn Moran by phone requesting comment for a story he was writing concerning CBP, the NBPC, and President Trump. Blitzer said he would email over some questions and points that he wanted to give the NBPC the chance to respond to.
Blitzer emailed the questions at 9:20AM Pacific.
On February 17, 2017, at 9:20AM Pacific, Shawn Moran responded by email with the NBPC’s answers and viewpoints on the questions provided.
The New Yorker did not even allow the NBPC 24 hours to respond to these very charged accusations before it ran the story. The story posted at 9AM Pacific on Febraury 17th. The NBPC can come to no other conclusion than that the New Yorker was not interested in our answers and had the story written prior to contacting us. The call and email was simply an attempt by the New Yorker to cover itself and say it sought out the perspective of the NBPC.
The topic of “fake news” tops headlines everywhere these days, and this instance by the New Yorker falls into that category. Sloppy reporting, anonymous sourcing, and a reliance upon unverified facts make this article out to be nothing more than a hit-piece on the National Border Patrol Council and by extension Border Patrol agents everywhere.
Why is the New Yorker afriad to get the other side of the story? Probably because it doesn’t fit with their agenda to smear President Trump and the hard work of Border Patrol agents.
Since the New Yorker will not publish our response, we will. Below is a response from NBPC President Brandon Judd along with the questions and points that the New Yorker requested comment on. The responses by the NBPC are indented and italicized.
Good afternoon, my name is Brandon Judd and I’m the President of the National Border Patrol Council. Shawn Moran informed me you’re writing a story about the NBPC and our endorsement and support of President Trump. In an effort to help you write a story that is as factually correct as possible I’m going to offer some information about the NBPC and provide comments to your below statements.
The NBPC is not the Union, we are a council within the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the actual Union. Border Patrol Agents prefer to be part of AFGE as opposed to other Federal Union’s because AFGE is a bottom up organization. AFGE is comprised of 35 separate councils such as the Veteran’s Administration Council, the Social Security Administration Council, the Transportation Security Administration Council, and of course the National Border Patrol Council. As long as all councils comply with AFGE’s constitution, they are free to act autonomous from AFGE in the way they handle business such as negotiations, litigation, political endorsements, media communications, and a host of other matters. This is why I call AFGE a bottom up organization and under this structure the NBPC has thrived.
The NBPC has one of, if not the highest percentage of voluntary dues paying members in the entire Federal Government let alone AFGE. Compared to the average AFGE Council, which has approximately a 50% organization rate, the NBPC boasts an organization rate of nearly 85%, and we do it with one of the highest dues structures within AFGE. Thanks to our organization rate and dues structure and unlike other councils, the NBPC is completely self-sufficient. We have our own legal department comprised of 9 staff attorneys, two paralegals, and a nationally recognized law firm on retainer. We have our own legislative department and contract with a well-known DC lobbying firm. We have a PR firm, we own four office buildings, we have a podcast and a Sunday Radio Show that airs on KNST. We’ve been invited to testify before Congress more than any other council in AFGE and we are completely bi-partisan. Although we are only a midsize council within AFGE, I do not believe any of the larger councils have near the assets we have.
The NBPC has never sought to endorse any candidate for public office, but if a candidate reaches out to us, we will consider an endorsement and we’ve proudly endorsed both Democrats and Republicans for US Congressional offices. Although we’ve endorsed candidates from both major parties, we’ve only held fundraisers for Democrats. This doesn’t mean we won’t hold fundraisers for Republicans in the future, but as of today’s date we haven’t and we don’t have any scheduled. We are planning at least three fundraisers within the next couple of months for three separate Democrats. We support candidates who are strong on border security regardless of party. As stated above we have never sought to endorse a candidate, we only consider endorsing those who request an endorsement and more often than not, even after receiving requests, we choose to stay neutral.
We are not anti-immigration, we are law enforcement agents and are pro rule of law. We believe that laws are what made and make our country great and keep American citizens, legal residents and others residing within our borders safe. We are 100% pro legal immigration, and we support the yearly legal immigration limits Congress sets and support the filling of all quotas regardless of country of origin. We perform an extremely dangerous job and from the best of my recollection, Border Patrol Agents are assaulted more than other agents or officers within the law enforcement profession. It has been well documented that although never trained, Border Patrol Agents perform a humanitarian mission on a daily basis and we strive to do so with as much dignity and integrity as possible. With their own money, Border Patrol Agents have purchased and brought food, clothing, toys, and diapers to holding facilities so children can have necessities and entertainment while in custody..
I am very proud to be a Border Patrol Agent and I am proud of the work Border Patrol Agents nationwide perform day in, and day out in trying to keep this country safe.
-I identify the National Border Patrol Council as the largest Border Patrolmen’s union.
The NBPC is the exclusive representative of rank-and-file Border Patrol Agents.
-I say its membership consists of roughly 16,000 agents (out of the Patrol’s roughly 21,000 agents overall).
The numbers within in the agency fluctuate, if we were at the floor congress set of 21,370 agents, we would represent approximately 16,500 agents. Due to hiring issues and an extremely high attrition rate we currently have less than 20,000 agents nationwide and therefore we do not represent the full 16,500 agents.
-The National Border Patrol Council endorsed Trump during the campaign.
-It did so without a union-wide vote, but the move was supported by the rank and file.
In compliance with the AFGE constitution the NBPC holds elections by delegate vote from the various locals. All locals unanimously agreed to endorse then candidate Donald Trump in both the Primary and General Election (now President Trump). I do not know if all locals held a vote, but I do know they all took the issue to its members. Since the date of the endorsement we’ve increased our voluntary dues paying membership. And as stated above, we have one of if not the highest voluntary dues paying membership in the Federal Government.
-Brandon Judd, whom I identify as the head of the Border Patrol Council, told an interviewer last summer: “I’ve seen the lawlessness on the border . . . [and] how that affects the morale of the Border Patrol not being able to do your job … [Trump] wants to take those handcuffs off.”
I did give that quote and have done so on several occasions. To the best of my recollection I’ve always given that quote when discussing how smugglers use unaccompanied minors and family units to pull border patrol resources off the border to create holes to smuggle more valuable contraband into the United States.
I am the elected President of the NBPC and have served as such for just under four years. Prior to being elected President, I was elected and served as a NBPC Vice President for four years. I have also been a Local President in Tucson, Arizona and El Centro, California. I believe I am the only agent that has been elected as the President of two separate locals.
-In July 2014, a group of protestors blocked three DHS buses carrying migrants to a processing center in Murrieta, California.
-These protestors were led by a member of the San Diego chapter of the Minuteman, named Jeff Schwilk.
-Schwilk claimed to have known where the buses were going based on a tip he received from “a senior border patrol source” in the San Diego area.
The first statement is true. We have no way to verify the second and third points.
-That person was Ron Zermeno, who was a representative of the National Border Patrol Council.
I do not have first-hand knowledge of Ron Zermeno tipping off Jeff Schwilk. If he did, he did so of his own accord and not as a representative of the National Border Patrol Council. Your own quote above says Jeff Schwilk said it was “a senior border patrol source.” Jeff did not say a representative of the NBPC. Ron Zermeno was a representative for Local 1613 of the NBPC. He was not a national representative of the NBPC at any time. Ron Zermeno was a local union representative tasked with handling workmen’s compensation cases, not as a liaison to any outside groups.
-We cite a report by a non-profit called the Center for New Community [attached] that provides evidence that Zermeno was one of the many National Border Patrol Council representatives who have worked with anti-immigrant activists in recent years.
From your below statement, I can only conclude that you consider FAIR, CIS and NumbersUSA as anti-immigrant activists. Will you please provide me evidence that these groups are anti-immigrant? I have never heard of any of these organizations speak out against legal immigration. Does your publication consider anyone or any organization that speaks in favor of the rule of law as it pertains to immigration laws anti-immigrant? Until there is actual evidence and not just rhetoric, I will not consider NumbersUSA, FAIR, and CIS as anti-immigrant.
I can’t speak to their assertions about Ron Zermeno, but many facts cited in their report were untrue. Any political actions taken by Ron Zermeno were his own, and as a private citizen. Any actions he may have taken in his personal time were not at the behest of the National Border Patrol Council. The NBPC did not condone, sanction, or direct any contacts between Ron Zermeno and any outside groups.
As far as I’m aware, the NBPC has never worked with anti-immigrant groups. In fact, members of the NBPC have worked with several pro-immigrant groups such as the Southern Border Communities Coalition. San Diego Local President and NBPC Southwest Region Vice President Terry Shigg, Shawn Moran, and other stewards have met with them and other similar groups on several occasions.
-That work has consisted of giving them tours of the borderlands, leaking them information and data about migrants, and delivering testimony at their behest before Congress.
During my time as the President of the National Border Patrol Council, the only NBPC representatives that have testified before Congress have been Chris Cabrera, Dean Mandel, Shawn Moran, Art Del Cueto, and myself. All testimony was approved by me and at no time were we asked to testify or present testimony at the behest of any group. On all occasions, we were invited to testify by congressional officials.
To the best of my knowledge and during my time as the NBPC President we have never given a border tour to anyone from an anti-immigrant group. We have given border tours to Congressmen and many reporters regardless of their political leanings and will be happy to give you a border tour as well.
I can’t speak to the first two assertions, but I don’t believe Ron Zermeno has ever testified before Congress on behalf of himself or the NBPC.
-Some of the groups linked to border patrolmen are Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), and NumbersUSA.
I have spoken with representatives of FAIR, CIS and NumbersUSA in the past, and if there are issues of mutual concern I will speak with them in the future.
-Late last month, when President Trump signed his executive order on border security, he was joined in the Oval Office by Brandon Judd, the president of the National Border Patrol Council.
I have never been to the Oval Office. I was present at DHS Headquarters when President Trump signed the Border Security Executive Order.
-Mike Morgan, the chief of Border Patrol, was not there.
Mark Morgan nor any other Border Patrol Manager was present during the signing of the Executive Order. In fact no Border Patrol Agents other than myself and NBPC Executive Vice President Paul Perez were present during the signing of the Executive Order.
-A few days later, in his first address to DHS employees, Trump singled out Judd for praise.
On the same day I was present for the signing of the EO and while still at DHS Headquarters commonly called the NAC, President Trump did mention me in his speech to DHS Employees. Specifically, President Trump said: “I also want to acknowledge two individuals in the audience who will play a very, very important role going forward, I’d like to recognize Brandon Judd the President of the National Border Patrol Council and Chris Crane, two friends of mine, President of National ICE Council; you guys are about to be very, very busy doing your job the way you want to do them. Where are they, where are those guys? Thank you fellas.”
-The next day, Morgan resigned. He claims to have been forced out by influential members of the union.
I am not aware of any public comments in which Mark Morgan himself claimed to have been forced out by the union.
-We quote Gil Kerlikowske speaking to the Washington Post: “The union supported this candidate for president, and now very much appears to be directing things—which is absolutely unheard of in law enforcement.”
I read that quote in the Washington Post. Please refer to a quote that I gave Andrew Becker where I said, the Union does not nor should it direct the operations of CBP (paraphrased). The Union, in fact, does not “direct things,” but even if we did (we don’t), I find it ironic that he mentions things that are “unheard of in law enforcement.” He did things as the Commissioner of CBP that were unheard of in law enforcement. He hired someone as the Chief of the Border with zero immigration experience. That was unheard of in law enforcement. Hypocritical?
I believe he’s also quoted as saying the Union was never happy with Mark Morgan’s hiring. This statement is also false. Other than me, the National Border Patrol Council has three individuals who are authorized to speak on its behalf without the Executive Committee’s – which I head – permission. Shawn Moran, Art Del Cueto and Chris Cabrera. When Chief Morgan was hired, all four of us took the high road, and we publicly congratulated him and wished him luck. We had concerns due to his lack of immigration experience, but Commissioner Kerlikowske’s comments about us not being happy are not true. I believe he was upset because his hand-picked Chief did not meet the public’s lofty expectations and he needed someone to blame, and the Union, due to our endorsement was the easy target.
Mr. Trump campaigned on improving border security. During Mr. Morgan’s tenure assaults on agents increased by over 200%, and low morale led to mass retirements or transfers of experienced agents to other law enforcement agencies. The American people voted for secure borders. Mr. Morgan’s record led to his dismissal. He and the former Commissioner will try to blame others and never take responsibility for failing. I think President Trump should be commended for doing what the previous Administration failed to do for eight years, he held people accountable.