Mexican soldiers crossed clear line

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“A reasonable person would conclude that the soldiers knew exactly at whom they were pointing their rifles,” Mr. Tuffly said. “Had the agent panicked and fired a shot or attempted to flee in his vehicle, there is little doubt the Mexican soldiers would have opened fire.”

Mr. Tuffly, a veteran Border Patrol agent, called the State Department’s description of the incident “unfortunate,” noting that during past incursions, the Mexican government denied it had soldiers in the area or blamed impostors, even when military Humvees were involved.

“Time after time they have gotten away with these incursions and time after time our government has not taken a forceful stand against them,” he said.

Mr. Basham’s letter was sent Sept. 25 to Mr. Tuffly in response to an Aug. 23 letter by the Local 2544 president to President Bush asking that he put an end to Mexican military incursions that have put Border Patrol agents at risk of being injured or killed.

“It is disgraceful that Border Patrol agents are put in harm’s way and our government doesn’t do everything reasonably within its power to protect us from marauding Mexican soldiers and others,” Mr. Tuffly wrote. “Without a forceful response to these illegal incursions, an agent will eventually be seriously wounded or killed. It is only a matter of time.”

In his letter, Mr. Basham said “dialogue with the government of Mexico” had been initiated “to prevent a recurrence of this type of incident.” He said CBP was committed to “preventing incursions into the United States by any entity, whether unintentional or by those who enter with criminal intent.”

“Securing our borders is a top priority and our Border Patrol agents are precious resources that are essential in gaining greater levels of operational control along our border with Mexico,” Mr. Basham said, vowing to Mr. Tuffly to “make it a priority to speak again with the leadership at the Department of State and the Mexican government on this issue.”

The NBPC, staffed by current and retired Border Patrol agents, represents all of the agency’s 14,000 nonsupervisory agents and support staff. Mr. Tuffly’s local is the union’s largest, with about 3,000 members.

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