A Calexico-based Border Patrol agent has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and agreed to resign after admitting to striking a migrant in custody in the face, according to court documents.
The legal proceedings against Jason Andrew McGilvray both opened and closed on Thursday in San Diego federal court. He was arraigned on a charge of deprivation of rights under the color of law, subsequently pleaded guilty and was then sentenced to one year of unsupervised probation.
According to his plea agreement, McGilvray encountered a migrant — identified only by the initials B.S.S. — on Feb. 16. The migrant had attempted to enter the U.S. by jumping the border fence near Gordon’s Well in Imperial County.
Once placed in custody, McGilvray “willfully struck B.S.S. in the face with the intent to deprive B.S.S. of his constitutional right against unreasonable force during search and seizure,” the plea states.
The court records do not indicate how the investigation unfolded, including whether there were witnesses to the abuse or if the migrant was treated for injuries.
As part of the plea, McGilvray agreed to resign from the Border Patrol, terminate his security clearance and not seek or apply for a position in federal law enforcement in the future.
He joined the Border Patrol in 2006, agency officials said. He is no longer employed, officials confirmed Tuesday.
Criminal charges accusing border officers of physical abuse are rarely filed.
Last August, a longtime supervisory officer with U.S. Customs and Border Protection was arrested on accusations of strangling a traveler at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. The U.S. citizen victim, who had claimed that he lost his identification at a bar, got into an argument with night supervisor Harvey Booker who then wrapped both hands around the seated man’s neck and squeezed for 13 seconds, according to prosecutors.
Booker, 70, was charged under a felony version of the law.
He pleaded guilty and was accepted into the San Diego court’s Veterans Diversion Program, which lasts one to two years and includes treatment, counseling and monitoring. If he completes the program the conviction will not be entered on his record.
Davis writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.