As President Obama prepares to announce his plans to essentially legalize five million illegal immigrants from the White House Thursday night, Border Patrol agents working against dangerous criminal aliens are being stripped of their weapons and forced to share rifles, leaving them unarmed and vulnerable.
KVOA News 4 in Tucson recently finished an investigation into the situation and the findings are alarming.
We learned that U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Offices of Border Patrol and Training and Development are inspecting the quality of agents' M4 carbines throughout Border Patrol sectors nationwide. But agents tell us, some of those M4s have not been replaced. And, we've learned, agents are required to share rifles amongst each other.
"There's a lot of agents that are pretty upset over it," said Art del Cueto, president of the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector union. "We know it's a dangerous job. We know what we signed on for but we want to have as much of the equipment as we need to perform the job."
The M4 carbine is used by the U.S. military and by Border Patrol agents. It's even used by the Border Patrol's tactical unit, BORTAC. Agent Brian Terry was carrying the M4 when he was shot and killed in December 2010.
Customs and Border Protection officials in Washington D.C. claim the rifles are being taken out of commission due to safety concerns while ironically leaving agents in an unsafe, unarmed and dangerous situation. A Border Patrol source tells me that many of the rifles being "deadlined" are rifles that have been functioning properly, not rifles that were malfunctioning or damaged. The source also said many "damaged" rifles being taken out of commission can be easily repaired on scene with readily available parts. Further, "sharing" rifles is unacceptable. Mexican cartels aren't taking a day off and certainly carry weapons of their own every day. More from News 4:
Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada grew worried when told of the delay in redistributing rifles to agents.
"This is a concern for the officers and for the community as well," he said. "We want to make sure that they have all the equipment that they need to be able to provide the safest environment we possibly can."
Jeff Prather is a former drug enforcement agent who now runs the Warrior School in Tucson. He says agents have reached out to him about the rifle shortage.
He said agents stand the risk of being over-powered on the border.
"Cartels have always been better equipped, the paramilitary forces, the corrupt Mexican soldiers and federales at times," Prather said.
He says agents have contacted him and told him about their concerns about sharing the weapons.
"And now they're seriously concerned. Because if they're concerned enough to reach out and contact me and reach out so we get this message out, they are not only frustrated but they are in fear for their lives."
While the administration prepares to allocate funding to five million people living in the United States illegally, Border Patrol agents are being left defenseless. The federal government has an obligation to immediately replace rifles taken out of service, yet is failing to do so and agents are at greater risk as a result.