The U.S. Border Patrol’s record of rampant misconduct by agents — and its frequent indifference to this misconduct — is difficult to exaggerate. In 2014, a Politico investigation laid out the case that the Border Patrol was “America’s most out-of-control law enforcement agency.” The report detailed one notorious 2014 case — in which a Texas agent killed himself after being confronted by the FBI over his rape of three migrant women who surrendered to him — and documented a systemic problem of agents feeling unaccountable and above the law.
Now, finally, the federal government is taking a fundamental step to clean up the Border Patrol. Last week, the Biden administration announced plans to have 6,000 agents wear body cameras by year’s end, increasing to 7,500 next year. The rollout will begin in Texas and New Mexico before arriving in California. With 20,000 agents, it’s only a first step.
The administration’s decision came after it was lobbied by a broad coalition of groups often at odds with each other — the Border Patrol agents union, the American Civil Liberties Union and a bipartisan group of lawmakers. The agents union’s chief expressed his belief that the cameras will do more to illustrate that claims of misconduct are untrue than to corroborate the claims. If only more police unions held such views. Trust is, after all, a two-way street.