Border agent killed, another wounded at Texas border

A Border Patrol agent was murdered in the Big Bend sector of the U.S.-Mexican border yesterday.  His partner was severely injured. 

Agent Rogelio Martinez, 36, died of injuries while responding to reports of "activity" near Interstate 10 in the Van Horn Station area.  His unidentified partner was taken to an area hospital, where his condition is listed as serious.

Martinez is the second agent killed this year.

Fox News:

President Trump pushed the need for his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall Sunday night following the incident, tweeting: "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!"

Elaine Duke, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, released a statement Sunday calling Martinez's death a "tragic event."

"Earlier this morning, I was notified that Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez died as a result of serious injuries suffered while on patrol in the Big Bend Sector of our southern border in Texas. Agent Martinez was responding to activity while on patrol with another agent, who was also seriously injured," the statement read.

"We are fully supporting the ongoing investigation to determine the cause of this tragic event. On behalf of the quarter of a million frontline officers and agents of DHS, my thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Agent Martinez and to the agent who is in serious condition." 

Records show the Big Bend sector of the border has been relatively quiet:

Border Patrol records show that Big Bend accounted for about 1 percent of the more than 61,000 apprehensions agents made along the Southwest border between October 2016 and May 2017.

The region's mountains and the Rio Grande make it a difficult area for people to cross illegally into the U.S. from Mexico.

A recent audit by the GAO showed that the border patrol is short about 2,000 agents and is losing them faster than they are being hired.

More than 900 agents leave each year on average but the Border Patrol only hires an average of 523 a year, the Government Accountability Office said in a broad survey of staffing and deployment challenges at the key border law enforcement agency.

The law requires the agency to have a minimum of 21,370 agents on board, but it had just 19,500 agents as of May.

That's an even bigger problem when stacked up against President Trump's call for hiring 5,000 more agents, to reach a workforce of 26,370.

While the investigation into what happened to Agent Martinez is just getting underway, you have to wonder if the shortage of agents played any role in his death.  Being one of the quietest sectors along the border, you wouldn't expect a much larger presence for the Border Patrol.  But suppose ICE had the luxury of several thousand more agents.  We'll never know.

As for the wall making a difference, from what we know of plans for building the wall, the Big Bend sector might not even feature a physical barrier.  But since final plans for the wall have yet to be developed – and a cost estimate generated – it's impossible to know if a wall would have made a difference.

That said, the death of Agent Martinez highlights the absolute necessity to get control of our southern border.  Whether he was murdered by drug dealers or illegal aliens is not the point.  The point is that someone or some people illegally crossed the border and murdered an American hero.

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