Like police officers in the country, border agents are also committing crimes against civilians. The use of excessive force is staggering and rarely do these officers get reprimanded for their unlawful behavior. However, such was not the case last week when a Calexico-based Border Patrol agent pleaded guilty to hitting a migrant in the face. While President Donald Trump has made it abundantly clear that it’s perfectly okay to use excessive force on suspected criminals, at least Jason Andrew McGilvray — and his legal team — was forced to see the error of his ways.
On August 22, McGilvray entered a guilty plea on a misdemeanor charge over hitting a migrant on February 16. According to court documents, provided by The San Diego Tribune, the migrant was allegedly caught crossing the border fence near Gordon’s Well in Imperial County. McGilvray then apprehended the individual where he “willfully struck [the migrant]. in the face with the intent to deprive [the migrant] of his constitutional right against unreasonable force during search and seizure.”
The agent, who worked in Calexico, said in a plea agreement that in February he detained a migrant who had tried to illegally enter the U.S. by jumping a border fence, he then struck the migrant in the face after he was in custody. https://t.co/IdVNu2bPNs
— KUSI News (@KUSINews) August 28, 2019
In agreement to his guilty plea deal, he will be on unsupervised probation, pay a $25 fee, and will no longer be a border agent as he was forced to resign. McGilvray had been working as a border agent since 2006.
What makes this case particularly interesting is that the details of the investigation have not been disclosed. For example, why and how did McGilvray get charged in the first place since it’s incredibly uncommon for officers to get charged for these sorts of crimes. Perhaps someone in a higher position saw McGilvray hit the migrant?
It’s highly doubtful that the migrant sued McGilvray for assault for fear of retaliation. So the question is who saw McGilvray hit the migrant, or who saw it fit that McGilvray should be charged for his crime? This could have been McGilvray’s last straw. ProPublica reports that McGilvray had been investigated for other incidences during his career.
Matthew Bowen, a Border Patrol agent, was the subject of multiple investigations over his long career. On Monday, he plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge, in which he admitted to hitting a man with his truck and promised to resign. (via @propublica)https://t.co/mdMyzxZiad
— The Center for Public Integrity (@publicintegrity) August 22, 2019
According to Quartz, since 2016, “only two agents have been arrested for ‘mission-related misconduct.” Their investigative report also shows that border agents are held at a higher standard than police officers because more of them have been arrested for misconduct, but not charged. That is where this case differs from most; this time, an agent was charged and held accountable.
BuzzFeed News reports that the American Immigration Council found 2,178 cases of alleged misconduct at the hands of Border Patrol agents in 2017. “Among the 1,255 cases where an outcome was reported, only about 4 percent resulted in action against the officer or agent accused of misconduct.”