- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 16, 2021

A Homeland Security officer who works at a Texas border crossing used her job to smuggle a woman into the country under false pretenses to work as a housekeeper, internal affairs investigators said in charging documents.

Customs and Border Protection Officer Rhonda Walker, who worked at the Laredo Port of Entry, even broke the pandemic border shutdown to bring the Mexican woman, Yadira Yesenia Trevino-SanMiguel, into the country so she could act as a caretaker at her home, authorities said.

CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility got wind of the scam through an anonymous tip in June and had been watching Officer Walker and her residence over the months to try to piece together what was happening.

They tracked down a wire payment they said Officer Walker made to the housekeeper’s family in Mexico, and obtained video of the officer walking out to the middle of the border crossing bridge on Jan. 2 and escorting the woman into the U.S., jumping the line of people waiting. Officer Walker then used another officer’s login to finish the admissions process for the housekeeper.

Authorities said Officer Walker arranged the entry despite pandemic restrictions that should have barred the woman because her travel was not essential.

Internal affairs agents were on hand last week when Ms. Trevino-SanMiguel tried to reenter the U.S., and confronted her. She admitted she was being used as a housekeeper.

When investigators interviewed Officer Walker, she said the housekeeper was her aunt — something Ms. Trevino-SanMiguel refuted.

Officer Walker also admitted she snuck the woman into the U.S. on a short-term tourist/business visa, according to the court documents.

“CBPO Walker affirmed that Trevino-SanMiguel was working and residing in the U.S. in violation of her non-immigrant status, yet allowed her to enter the U.S.,” Special Agent Francisco R. Cantu wrote in the criminal complaint charging Officer Walker with alien smuggling and making false statements.

A lawyer for Officer Walker didn’t respond Tuesday to a request for comment.

CBP referred questions about Office Walker to the U.S. attorney prosecuting the case but defended the agency.

“CBP stresses honor and integrity in every aspect of our mission, and the overwhelming majority of CBP officers and agents perform their duties with honor and distinction, working tirelessly every day to keep our country safe,” the agency said. “We do not tolerate corruption or abuse within our ranks, and we fully cooperate with any criminal or administrative investigation of alleged misconduct by any of our personnel, on or off duty.”

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