Adding fuel to a politically charged debate, an unseen Border Patrol agent with an electronically altered voice told a congressional subcommittee Friday that he has seen supervisors order agents to engage in fraudulent reporting and field practices to paint a positive picture of the Operation Gatekeeper border crackdown.
The crackdown is intended to stem the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States.
The anonymous agent alleged Friday that his supervisors in Imperial Beach have ordered agents to send hundreds of undocumented immigrants back to Mexico without completing any paperwork to document their apprehension. He said the supervisors placed limits on the number of immigrant apprehensions that could be recorded, or simply dumped any unflattering paperwork into the trash.
“Agents do not willingly participate in these shameful acts, but are coerced and intimidated into compliance by our supervisors,” he told the House subcommittee on government management, information and technology, at a hearing held at Imperial Beach City Hall in southern San Diego County.
Senior architects of Operation Gatekeeper, who have ordered an investigation into the fraud allegations, defended the success of the 22-month-old program to bolster the Border Patrol’s presence along a 14-mile stretch of western San Diego, saying it has reduced crime 30% in the area and turned back thousands of immigrants who once streamed freely into Imperial Beach.
Soon, they say, they will try to duplicate their efforts farther east.
“We have brought control to Imperial Beach,” said Gus de la Vina, western regional director of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
“We used to have [undocumented immigrations] all over the place,” he said. “We’ve reduced the crime, the murders. We have seen a tremendous difference. It is like night and day.”