Labor Union

National Border Patrol Council

Website:

bpunion.org/

Location:

Washington, D.C

Formation:

1967

President:

Brandon Judd

Type:

Border agent union

National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) is the labor union representing border security agents in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The union is known for having right-of-center politics and for supporting former President Donald Trump, both rare positions in organized labor. It is an affiliate of the AFL-CIO and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). As of February 2020, the NBPC has 20,000 members. [1]

Politics

The National Border Patrol Council has been described as “unabashedly conservative” [2] and strongly supportive of former President Donald Trump. Some union leaders campaigned for President Trump. Vice president Art Del Cueto, who runs “The Green Line,” NBPC’s radio talk show, was particularly enthusiastic, and even visited then-President Trump at the White House numerous times. [3] The first guest on “The Green Line” was Trump, at the time a presidential candidate. [4]

However, an anonymous union member speaking to The Intercept on behalf of a minority of union members claimed that support for President Trump is not as widespread as reported and that the union was in “chaos” under President Trump. Despite numerous promises from President Trump, the NBPC received no substantial pay or benefit increases during his presidency. [5]

Endorsements

In March 2016, the National Border Patrol Council endorsed Donald Trump for president. It was the first time the union had ever endorsed a presidential candidate. [6] After the endorsement, more than 20 officials of the El Paso branch of the NBPC signed a letter rejecting the union’s endorsement of Trump in favor of a neutral stance in the election. [7]

In 2018, the Trump White House criticized the NBPC for endorsing three Democrats for U.S. Senate: U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) and U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND). [8]

In January 2022, the NBPC endorsed Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R-TX) in his reelection campaign due to his promise to use state funds to support border security. [9]

Member Retention

In a 2018 interview, National Border Patrol Council vice president Chris Cabrera said “one of our biggest problems right now” is retaining agents since many NBPC members leave the union for higher-paying federal agencies. [10]

Affiliation with the AFL-CIO and AFGE

The National Border Patrol Council is an affiliate of the AFL-CIO and the American Federation of Government Employees despite differing political views. The NBPC’s website states “although NBPC is opposed to the shameless promotion of illegal aliens by AFGE and AFL-CIO, the NBPC must work through internal measures to change the position of AFGE and AFL-CIO.” The NBPC maintains the affiliations to keep its status as the exclusive union of border patrol agents and to keep its third-party legal insurance. The website also states that if the connections were severed, the union would lose many of its assets and it would be placed under control of AFGE representatives. NBPC members currently pay $0.65 per month for these affiliations. [11]

Controversies

Criminal Misconduct

Since 2015, hundreds of National Border Patrol Council members have been arrested on charges ranging from drunk driving to murder. [12]

Embezzlement

In February 2020, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced it was investigating the disappearance of $500,000 from the El Paso branch of the NBPC. According to a recording reported upon by ProPublica, $352,000 was misappropriated and $150,000 worth of funds meant to be used for tax payments were stolen. [13]

Underreporting Illegal Immigration

In March 2015, while testifying before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, NBPC vice president Chris Cabrera claimed that border patrol agents are forced to systematically understate the number of illegal immigrants entering the country by their superiors. Allegedly, agents who repeatedly report detaining groups of immigrants larger than 20 are reprimanded. This effort is supposedly led by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) within the Department of Defense which claims that 75% of illegal immigrants are stopped at the border, while Cabrera estimates the true figure is around 40%. [14]

Rogelio Martinez Death Allegations

In November 2017, border agent Rogelio Martinez was found badly wounded near the border and died soon afterward. The National Border Patrol Council declared that Martinez had been killed by migrants. Then-President Donald Trump, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R-TX) used the supposed murder as an example for why the United States needs increased border security. Contradicting the claims, U.S. Customs and Border Protection found no evidence of struggle and labeled the cause of death as “undetermined.” [15] [16] [17]

Some sources, including the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Culberson County Sheriff Oscar Carillo claimed that Martinez likely fell to his death in a culver. NBPC vice president Chris Cabrera, representing the union, spoke out in numerous venues including on the union’s talk show to promote the theory that Martinez had been murdered by migrants. He claimed that border agents are often under attack from migrants and that it was highly unlikely an experienced agent would fall to his death in well-known terrain. [18] [19] [20]

Lobbying

The National Border Patrol Council’s lobbying expenditure has steadily increased over the last two decades. From 2019-2021, the NBPC spent $320,000 per year. [21]

References

  1. Thompson, A.C.; Ernsthausen, Jeff. “The FBI Investigating Massive Embezzlement of Border Patrol Union Funds.” ProPublica. February 24, 2020. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.propublica.org/article/the-fbi-is-investigating-massive-embezzlement-of-border-patrol-union-funds. ^
  2.  Graff, Garrett M. “Donald Trump’s Army on the Border.” Politico. July 18, 2016. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/07/2016-donald-trump-mexico-us-border-patrol-immigration-undocumented-illegal-customs-texas-rio-grande-214060/. ^
  3. Devereaux, Ryan. “An Unchecked Opinion.” The Intercept. December 27, 2020. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://theintercept.com/2020/12/27/border-patrol-trump-biden-politics/. ^
  4. Graff, Garrett M. “Donald Trump’s Army on the Border.” Politico. July 18, 2016. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/07/2016-donald-trump-mexico-us-border-patrol-immigration-undocumented-illegal-customs-texas-rio-grande-214060/. ^
  5. Devereaux, Ryan. “An Unchecked Opinion.” The Intercept. December 27, 2020. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://theintercept.com/2020/12/27/border-patrol-trump-biden-politics/. ^
  6. Aguilar, Julian. “Border Patrol Union Endorses Trump for President.” The Texas Tribune. March 30, 2016. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.texastribune.org/2016/03/30/border-patrol-union-endorses-trump-president/. ^
  7. Borunda, Daniel. “El Paso-NM border agents fight Trump endorsement.” El Paso Times. April 11, 2016. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.elpasotimes.com/story/news/politics/elections/2016/04/11/el-paso-nm-border-agents-fight-trump-endorsement/82895344/. ^
  8. [1] Lippman, Daniel. “Trump officials irked that Border Patrol union endorsed 3 Senate Democrats.” Politico. October 26, 2018. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.politico.com/story/2018/10/26/border-patrol-union-senate-democrats-894886. ^
  9. [1] Hampton, Tylisa. “Border Patrol Council announces endorsement of Gov. Abbott on re-election campaign.” KXAN. January 10, 2022. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.kxan.com/news/texas-politics/gov-abbott-to-meet-with-border-officials-make-announcement-in-the-rgv/. ^
  10. [1] Thompson, A.C.; Ernsthausen, Jeff. “The FBI Investigating Massive Embezzlement of Border Patrol Union Funds.” ProPublica. February 24, 2020. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.propublica.org/article/the-fbi-is-investigating-massive-embezzlement-of-border-patrol-union-funds. ^
  11. “Union FAQ.” National Border Patrol Council. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://bpunion.org/about-nbpc/union-faq/. ^
  12. Thompson, A.C.; Ernsthausen, Jeff. “The FBI Investigating Massive Embezzlement of Border Patrol Union Funds.” ProPublica. February 24, 2020. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.propublica.org/article/the-fbi-is-investigating-massive-embezzlement-of-border-patrol-union-funds. ^
  13. Thompson, A.C.; Ernsthausen, Jeff. “The FBI Investigating Massive Embezzlement of Border Patrol Union Funds.” ProPublica. February 24, 2020. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.propublica.org/article/the-fbi-is-investigating-massive-embezzlement-of-border-patrol-union-funds. ^
  14. “Border Patrol Agent says 6 in 10 Illegal Aliens Cross Border Unabeted.” Numbers USA. March 18, 2015. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.numbersusa.com/news/border-patrol-agent-testifies-senate-committee-indicated-6-10-aliens-cross-border. ^
  15. Hennessy-Fiske, Molly. “Autopsy only adds to mystery of Border Patrol agent’s death. FBI has found no evidence of an attack.” Los Angeles Times. February 7, 2018. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-border-patrol-autopsy-20180207-story.html. ^
  16. Moore, Robert. “Speaking Truth to Power.” Texas Monthly. May 2018. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.texasmonthly.com/news-politics/border-patrol-agent-mysterious-death-political-agenda/. ^
  17. Aslup, Dave; McLean, Scott; Simon, Darran. “The FBI hasn’t found any evidence that border patrol agent was murdered.” CNN. February 8, 2018. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/08/us/border-patrol-agent-death-investigation/index.html. ^
  18. Hennessy-Fiske, Molly. “Autopsy only adds to mystery of Border Patrol agent’s death. FBI has found no evidence of an attack.” Los Angeles Times. February 7, 2018. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-border-patrol-autopsy-20180207-story.html. ^
  19. Moore, Robert. “Speaking Truth to Power.” Texas Monthly. May 2018. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.texasmonthly.com/news-politics/border-patrol-agent-mysterious-death-political-agenda/. ^
  20. Aslup, Dave; McLean, Scott; Simon, Darran. “The FBI hasn’t found any evidence that border patrol agent was murdered.” CNN. February 8, 2018. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/08/us/border-patrol-agent-death-investigation/index.html. ^
  21. “Lobbying.” Open Secrets. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/national-border-patrol-council/lobbying?id=D000054182. ^
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