A former U.S. Border Patrol agent who was fired for his views on illegal immigration and the drug war has filed a lawsuit against his former employer alleging wrongful termination. According to WestLaw News & Insight, the lawsuit was filed jointly with the American Civil Liberties Union and claims that the U.S. Border Patrol violated the former agent’s First Amendment rights of free speech. The lawsuit names as defendant the chief patrol agent for the El Paso sector.
The 26-year-old man, Bryan Gonzalez, was hired in October 2007 and was still in his probationary period as an employee when he was fired in September 2009. Gonzalez says that he had only positive reviews for his work. He says that in April 2009, during a work break, he talked with a fellow Border Patrol agent about his views on the drug war and illegal immigration.
Gonzalez said that he believed drug violence in Ciudad Juarez would end if the U.S. legalized drugs. He also said that he could understand the economic reasons why undocumented workers from Mexico would try to cross the border illegally. Gonzalez’s mother is a naturalized U.S. citizen from Mexico, and Gonzalez had dual citizenship in Mexico and the U.S. until he turned 18.
Gonzalez said that his colleague reported the conversation to their supervisor who notified the Joint Intake Command in Washington. The Office of Internal Affairs then launched an investigation, which conducted an interview with Gonzalez a few months later.
Gonzalez claims that his personal opinions did not undermine his ability to do the job he was hired and paid to do. He says that he always thought it was the “American way” to have an opinion and does not believe he should have been fired for it.
U.S. border cop fired over drug war views files lawsuit (WestLaw News & Insight)