The leadership of the National Border Patrol Council – the union representing rank-and-file Border Patrol guards – came out two months ago with an endorsement of Donald Trump’s presidential ambitions, marking the first time the union had endorsed a candidate during the primary cycle. In the process, those union leaders created a problem: The folks on the front line of border protections have aligned themselves with someone who believes the Mexicans crossing the border are “in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists.”
And who has denigrated women and vowed (likely in violation of the Constitution) to ban Muslims from entering the country.
The union faced some external backlash after making the endorsement, including calls for the AFL-CIO to kick it out of the labor federation. That’s silly. The union – any union – has a right to endorse a political candidate, though I wish they were a bit more democratic about it rather than having, as in the case of the Border Patrol union, the leadership make the call. And they are within their rights to align with any candidate they like – the AFL-CIO shouldn’t bounce a member union over its political positions, since the main point of the union is to represent its workers.
But the Border Patrol union did its members a disservice by backing a demagogue who demonizes some of the very people its members encounter as a core function of their jobs.
“We need a person in the White House who doesn’t fear the media, who doesn’t embrace political correctness, who doesn’t need the money, who is familiar with success, who won’t bow to foreign dictators, who is pro-military and values law enforcement, and who is angry for America and NOT subservient to the interests of other nations,” the union said. “Donald Trump is such a man.”
The “angry for America” should give pause. The person in charge of the nuclear code should be someone prone to anger?
Yes, secure borders are important for the U.S., but these days, more people are leaving the country for Mexico rather than the other way around. As the ACLU pointed out in its dissection of the union’s endorsement, the Obama administration has strengthened it by increasing the Border Patrol’s annual budget from $2.25 billion the year before he took office, to $3.8 billion in 2015.
And the Department of Homeland Security says it “has deployed a quarter of all its personnel to the Southwest border region – the most ever – doubling the number of personnel assigned to Border Enforcement Security Task Forces which work to dismantle criminal organizations along the border; increasing the number of intelligence analysts focused on cartel violence; and quintupling deployments of Border Liaison Officers to work with their Mexican counterparts.”
But the Border Patrol also has been dogged by profiling and abuse complaints. The union leadership deciding to align their members with a political figure who offered to pay the legal fees of supporters who attack protesters, who mocked the disabled, insulted women and has a history of union-busting doesn’t do much for the image of the Border Patrol agent, the very workers the union is supposed to looking out for.
Follow Scott Martelle on Twitter @smartelle.