SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) – San Diego Border Patrol agents, who are enforcing the Justice Department’s ‘zero tolerance policy,’ have become targets of abuse over social media as the immigration debate continues.
According to Border Patrol, social media users are going through profiles and posting names and personal family information online with rude remarks about agents.
Terrence Shigg is the president of the local Border Patrol agent union, and is pushing back against criticism directed at agents as they enforce the Justice Department’s ‘zero-tolerance’ policy. He told News 8 he just wants the community to know they are just doing their jobs and have a lot of compassion for the children in their care.
“To be made out as if we don’t care and are heartless and immoral – it hurts our guys. We want people to know that we are concerned about the children. We are making it is a priority to make sure they're safe, secure and it’s humane conditions that they're in. It is not laws that we have created. These are laws that Congress and president have put together. We've taken an oath to protect the country” said Shigg.
Despite the efforts to address community concerns, it has not stopped people from making threats on social media.
“I got a thing on my Facebook telling me I am going to hell and I am the worst person in the world. Nobody likes to be compared to Nazis. Nobody likes their information put out on the web. Nobody likes their family being threatened. All those things have occurred in the public sentiment with this,” he said.
According to Shigg, agents are experienced in caring for large groups of children – especially after 2014, when many unaccompanied minors arrived at the border.
“Before this was even in the spotlight, the people who were bringing them diapers and toys and making cakes for the kids in custody were the agents. We are human. We have kids of our own. As parents, we do not want any child of ours to suffer any way,” said Shigg.
Customs and Border Protection said in a statement to News 8 following the president’s executive order they will keep families together if they are caught entering the country illegally.
The agency said it is working to reunite children with their parents after they are prosecuted.
Border Patrol described working with different White House administrations like a pendulum. Sometimes there are more resources, other times there are less, but they pointed out the law did not change – just the mandate.
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