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N4T Investigators: Border Patrol representatives say they were retaliated against following testimony

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Border Patrol Union representatives say they are being unfairly retaliated against after speaking out about the Department of Homeland Security’s alleged directive to release non-dangerous undocumented immigrants without a notice to appear court summons.

In early February, National Border Patrol Union President Brandon Judd spoke publicly to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security about the policy and said it was directly due to the low number of undocumented immigrants showing up for their court hearing. 

Judd said in part during his testimony:

“The latest data that I have seen shows that approximately 40 percent of the individuals being issued NTAs do not show up. The willful failure to show up for court appearances by persons that were arrested and released by the Border Patrol has become an extreme embarrassment for the Department of Homeland Security. It has been so embarrassing that DHS and the U.S. Attorney’s Office has come up with a new policy.”

Judd said the new policy directs agents to not issue a NTA to an undocumented immigrant if they don’t have a criminal record and have been in the U.S. since January 2014, even if they can’t prove it.

Following his testimony, Judd said management within the organization filed an allegation against him and other members of the Border Patrol union saying the union board was doing things wrong.

“I know it was retaliation,” Judd said.

U.S. House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) agreed with Judd and wrote a formal letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson expressing his concern over the possible retaliation, saying in part:

“Such an inquiry, launched within days of Mr. Judd’s testimony before the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, raises the specter of retaliation against Mr. Judd and the other executive committee members.”

“Chairman Goodlatte did a lot of investigation into this.  He didn’t issue his letter right after the complaint was made…he did a lot of investigation into and found out that it was absolutely wrong,” Judd said. 

Rep. Goodlatte went on to say, “I fully expect that you will personally ensure that no DHS employee or contractor will be targeted for reprisal or any other form of adverse employment action on the basis of voicing their legitimate concerns regarding compliance with unwritten departmental policies that contradict your written policies.”

However, Judd said retaliation is something agents and others within in the organization expect.

“When we’re honest, when we’re forth coming, when we tell the American public exactly what’s happening, it embarrasses individuals," Judd said. "It puts pressure on the agency, so the agency is going to try to retaliate, try to keep people quiet."

Judd said he’s heard the allegation has been unfounded from a criminal and internal affairs stand point.

“So the allegation’s been unfounded, but the allegation was made and it was made to embarrass me,” Judd said. 

Customs and Border Protection declined to comment on this story to the News 4 Tucson Investigators.

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