One Border Patrol agent was killed and another injured while they were on patrol Sunday. Trump responded by renewing his call for an expanded border wall.
By Sylvia Longmire
Contributor, In Homeland Security
One Border Patrol agent was killed and another seriously injured while they were on patrol Sunday in the Big Bend area, a remote and rugged part of southwest Texas filled with mountainous terrain and canyons.
According to a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) news release, Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez “died as a result of serious injuries.” The report said Martinez was responding to activity while on patrol with another agent, who was also seriously injured.
While the report did not indicate the cause of Martinez’s death or the other agent’s injuries, Jeannette Harper of the FBI’s El Paso field office told the San Antonio Express-News that reports claiming the agents were shot were not true. She also said the agents were not fired upon nor were they stabbed. Harper added that a full account of what happened wouldn’t be released until later Monday.
Rocks May Have Killed, Injured Border Patrol Agents
A National Border Patrol Council labor union official said Martinez may have been killed in a rock attack, according to the Washington Post. “Art Del Cueto, the union’s vice president, said he has heard from other Border Patrol agents that Martinez and his partner were believed to be responding to an electronic sensor that had been activated,” the newspaper said. Del Cueto indicated rock attack incidents were common in that area.
The Big Bend sector covers 135,000 square miles in Texas and Oklahoma and 510 miles of river border. Due to the natural land barriers, there is no border fence in that sector.
According to the Associated Press, Big Bend accounted for only 1 percent of the roughly 61,000 apprehensions Border Patrol agents made along Texas’s southwest border between fall 2016 and spring 2017.
Trump and Senator Cruz Renew Call for Expanding Border Wall
Despite the Big Bend sector having one of the lowest illegal immigrant crossing rates along the entire southwest border, President Trump responded to the incident by renewing his call for an expanded border barrier.
On Sunday, Trump tweeted, “Border Patrol Officer killed at Southern Border, another badly hurt. We will seek out and bring to justice those responsible. We will, and must, build the Wall!”
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) joined in the call, saying Martinez and his partner were “attacked.” He called it “a stark reminder of the ongoing threat that an unsecure border poses to the safety of our communities and those charged with defending them.”
Border Wall Prototypes Built, but No Legislative Resources Have Allocated Money for New Fencing
Six construction companies have built eight border wall prototypes along the border in San Diego, according to the Washington Post. Although Congress has allocated $20 million in funding for these prototypes, there have been no legislative resources committed to the actual expansion of the existing roughly 700 miles of border fencing.
The concrete is still curing on some of the test sections, which CBP will use to formulate a final design for any future fence expansion. It’s possible the CBP could create a hybrid of the different designs or use none of them at all.
In the meantime, local and federal authorities in Texas are continuing to gather evidence related to the attack on Martinez and his partner.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) offered his condolences to the victims’ families and tweeted that “Our resources must be increased to prevent these attacks in the future.”