Border Patrol Agent Fired for Uttering Forbidden Truths

Last week Bryan Gonzalez, who worked as a U.S. Border Patrol agent in New Mexico from October 2007 until September 2009, sued his former supervisor for firing him because of opinions he expressed about the war on drugs. In April 2009, according to the complaint (PDF), Gonzalez remarked to a fellow agent, Shawn Montoya, during a break that "legalization of drugs would end the drug war and related violence in Mexico." He added that "the drug problems in America were due to American demand for drugs, supplied by Mexico." He mentioned Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of former law enforcement officials who oppose the war on drugs. The complaint says Gonzalez and Montoya also discussed illegal immigration. When Montoya asked "why Mexicans are always trying to enter the United States and steal jobs," Gonzalez "replied that the reason Mexicans came to the U.S. was the lack of jobs in Mexico."

Montoya reported this conversation, triggering an internal investigation that resulted in Gonzalez's dismissal shortly before the end of his two-year probationary period. Although his work evaluations until that point had all been excellent, the termination letter said he held "personal views that were contrary to the core characteristics of Border Patrol Agents, which are patriotism, dedication, and esprit de corps." The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, argues that the dismissal violated Gonzalez's First Amendment rights, since his remarks were not "made pursuant to his official duties," were not disruptive, and "did not interfere with the Defendant's interest in efficiency."

One of LEAP's speakers, Jonathan Wender, successfully sued the Mountlake Terrace, Washington, police department after being dismissed under similar circumstances. "In January 2009," LEAP reports, "the department settled, reinstating Wender and giving him back pay and full benefits."

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  • ||

    I guess the Blue Wall of Silence is still under construction where the 1st Amendment resides.

    Its only completed to protect the important things, like an officer shooting Rover.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    patriotism, dedication, and esprit de corps

    How are such things even definable, let alone measurable?

    And you can't be patriotic, dedicated and have esprit de corps if you believe the war on drugs isn't working?

  • PIRS||

    Patriotism [today] is defined as having the same views as those in political power.

  • Alan||

    Thanks for mentioning this. I was wondering when "Patriotic" came to mean "Stupid".

    Here I was, thinking that Patriotism was the last refuge for a scoundrel. I'm so out of date.

  • ||

    Can I just point out that Shawn Montoya is a world-class asshole?

    As for his activities with livestock, I can neither confirm nor deny . . . .

  • CaptainSmartass||

    Someone needs to remind Officer Montoya that snitches get stitches.

  • Jeffersonian||

    Well, it is a war and we all know what the first casualty of war is, don't we?

  • Steve Chaos||

    I also fail to see what is particularly "unpatriotic" or lacking in dedication to actually express the view that certain laws do more harm than good. Apparently, only in a fantasy land do things like "showing concern for the welfare of one's country" actually count as "patriotism" and "dedication."

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Being a border agent would require him to violate his principles, so I'd say he picked the wrong line of work. I still think the dissent is admirable.

  • Ken||

    We all evolve... it's very possible he became a border patrol agent before he realized the problems with the drug war.

  • ||

    Or hell, he was just desperate for a job.

    "Hmmm, border patrol or hooking.....lemme try the border patrol 1st...."

  • PIRS||

    "why Mexicans are always trying to enter the United States and steal jobs,"

    The phrase "steal jobs" always amuses me. Does the job belong to a person other than the employer offering it? If the employer purchases a mechanical device to perform a task a human once performed is that mechanical device "stealing" the job? Or is the employer "stealing" the job? That somehow belonged to another person?

  • Pip||

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Pip||

    Thanks for sharing.

  • PIRS||

    Do you disagree?

  • ||

    It's true. Mexicans are always breaking into people's homes at night and stealing their jobs. Then they sell them for drug money. Happened to a friend of mine. He had to search every pawn shop in the county before he found the one that had fenced his job, and he had to pay twice what it was worth to get it back.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Fox News- Cops are being targeted:

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011.....hot-hours/

  • nekoxgirl||

    So law enforcement officers can be fired for saying things that are politically incorrect but not for murdering people. Noted.

  • T||

    And people ask me why the system is fundamentally broken...

  • Hugh Akston||

    Clearly he didn't read the section of his DismissalLetter that stated that any response on his part would most likely consist of ad homs, displaying his childish, anti-intellectual nature.

  • T||

    +1

  • ||

    Border Patrol Agent Fired for Uttering Forbidden Truths

    Speaking truth to power is seldom a smart career move.

  • ||

    See? Never talk politics at work.

  • ||

    "the department settled, reinstating Wender and giving him back pay and full benefits."

    And the WoSD becomes even more expensive, hooray! MOTHER FUCKING SETTLEMENTS, HOW DO THEY WORK?!

  • Hugh Akston||

    Wait, there's a War on South Dakota now? Where do I sign up?

  • ||

    S for Some...i thought that acronym was common enough for general usage.

  • ||

    hmm

    "War on South Dakota" has some appeal.

  • Anonymous||

    This guy sounds like exactly the sort of mythical "good cop" concern trolls laud in Radley Balko comment threads. And what happened here is exactly why we're so skeptical of their prevalence. What happens to Gonzalez happens, in a more informal sense, to almost every would-be LEO who dares express the view that some laws might be unjust.

    Fortunately in this case there wasn't even a pretext, so lets hope he gets his job back. Better him than some jackass devoid of critical thought.

  • ||

    I must have missed the part of the First Amendment that mentions a right to a government job. I also thought libertarians don't believe that termination of employment is coercion.

  • LibertarianJRT||

    Tulpa, the government does not have the same rights as a private employer. This is one of the many reasons that government should not be in the business of hiring people.

  • RyanXXX||

    Here comes the token libertarian to defends the State's right, as an "employer", to fire whoever it wants

  • B||

    And I thought people with IQs over 12 understood the difference between a private employer and a government institution. Either I was wrong or you are really fucking stupid. I'm going with the latter.

  • tarran||

    I must have missed the part of the First Amendment that mentions a right to a government job

    True, but it also forbids a religious test for holding office...

    And, frankly, given all the evidence that the drug "war" is coutnerproductive, the belief that prohibition is a good idea has to be based on faith. It's all a giant cult really. :)

  • ||

    Prohibition is a sickening horror and the ocean of hypocrisy, incompetence, corruption and human wreckage it has left in its wake is almost endless.

    Prohibition has decimated generations and criminalized millions for a behavior which is entwined in human existence, and for what other purpose than to uphold the defunct and corrupt thinking of a minority of misguided, self-righteous Neo-Puritans and degenerate demagogues who wish nothing but unadulterated destruction on the rest of us.

    Based on the unalterable proviso that drug use, among all echelons of society, is essentially an unstoppable and ongoing human behavior which has been with us since the dawn of time, any serious reading on the subject of past attempts at any form of drug prohibition would point most normal thinking people in the direction of sensible regulation.

    By its very nature, prohibition cannot fail but create a vast increase in criminal activity, and rather than preventing society from descending into anarchy, it actually fosters an anarchic business model - the international Drug Trade. Any decisions concerning quality, quantity, distribution and availability are then left in the hands of unregulated, anonymous and ruthless drug dealers, who are interested only in the huge profits involved. Thus the allure of this reliable and lucrative industry, with it's enormous income potential that consistently outweighs the risks associated with the illegal operations that such a trade entails, will remain with us until we are collectively forced to admit the obvious.

    There is therefore an irrefutable connection between drug prohibition and the crime, corruption, disease and death it causes. Anybody 'halfway bright', and who's not psychologically challenged, should be capable of understanding that it is not simply the demand for drugs that creates the mayhem, it is our refusal to allow legal businesses to meet that demand. If you are not capable of understanding this connection then maybe you're using something far stronger than the rest of us. So put away your pipe, lock yourself away in a small room with some tinned soup and water, and try to crawl back into reality A.S.A.P.

    Because Drug cartels will always have an endless supply of ready cash for wages, bribery and equipment, no amount of tax money, police powers, weaponry, wishful thinking or pseudo-science will make our streets safe again. Only an end to prohibition can do that! How much longer are you willing to foolishly risk your own survival by continuing to ignore the obvious, historically confirmed solution?

    If you support the Kool-Aid mass suicide cult of prohibition, and erroneously believe that you can win a war without logic and practical solutions, then prepare yourself for even more death, tortured corpses, corruption, terrorism, sickness, imprisonment, economic tribulation, unemployment and the complete loss of the rule of law.

    "A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded."
    Abraham Lincoln

    The only thing prohibition successfully does is prohibit regulation & taxation while turning even our schools and prisons into black markets for drugs. Regulation would mean the opposite!

    Prohibition is nothing less than a grotesque dystopian nightmare; if you support it you must be either ignorant, stupid, brainwashed, insane or corrupt.

  • jester||

    Montoya forgot to point out that Mexican food is destroying our great American culinary tradition as well. And that Mexicans speak Spanish so that Americans don't understand that they are sizing them up for potential mugging. And that his family, the Montoyas, mostly had European features and came over directly from northern Spain.

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