On January 3, Brandon Judd, the president of the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC), stood next to President Trump in the White House Briefing Room and addressed the press: “I can personally tell you, from the work I’ve done on the southwest border, that walls actually work,” he said. “You hear a lot talk that there are experts that say that walls don’t work. I promise you that if you interview Border Patrol agents, they will tell you that walls work.”
After Judd finished speaking, Trump said that Judd and his colleagues “basically said—and I can take the word ‘basically’ out—that without a wall, you cannot have border security.”
At that very moment, however, the official policy of Judd’s organization—a union for employees of US Customs and Border Control—was that it “disagrees with wasting taxpayer money on building fences and walls along the border as a means of curtailing illegal immigration into the United States.”
That statement came from the official website of the NBPC’s “Media FAQ” page which argued at length against the policy of building border walls. The page, originally published in October 2012, was deleted on or after January 4, according to archives obtained through the Wayback Machine. This was the day after the press briefing, and four days before President Trump gave a prime-time television address arguing for Congress to spend $5.7 billion in order to build a larger wall along the US-Mexico border.
“Walls and fences are temporary solutions that focus on the symptom (illegal immigration) rather than the problem (employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens),” the now-deleted page says.
The Media FAQ page has not been replaced, and a link to the Media FAQ page has also been removed from the NBPC website. The NBPC did not respond to Motherboard’s request for comment. Though the FAQ argues at length against building a wall, it does note that “as long as we continue to operate under the current [National Border Patrol Strategy] and ignore the problem that is causing illegal immigration, we realize fences and walls are essential.”
The deletion of pages on federally-funded, .gov websites—such as the Environmental Protection Agency pages relating to climate change—can be caused by top-down mandates from the Trump administration. But the NBPC website exists at a .org rather than a .gov web address, and it is unclear what specifically spurred the deletion of the Media FAQ page. The White House did not immediately return Motherboard’s request for comment.
The deletion of the NBPC’s anti-border wall construction page demonstrates that the agency radicalized its public-facing stance during the Trump presidency. Since Trump became president, it has reliably supported his agenda. Currently, the home page of the NBPC website is full of stories highlighting and endorsing Trump’s positions on immigration.
The union endorsed Trump in April of 2016, however, the original endorsement excluded any mention of building a border wall. A NBPC tweet from April 2016 reads, “Who said we support a $15 B wall?” But in early 2017, after Trump’s inauguration, the NBPC began to explicitly support building a border wall, and union president Brandon Judd started to become vocal about the issue.
According to the Washington Times, a NBPC survey of 600 members from April 2018 found that 89 percent of agents believe that a “wall system in strategic locations is necessary to securing the border.”
For years prior to the Trump administration, the US Border Patrol has been plagued by violence directed at undocumented individuals. US Border Patrol agents have vandalized food and water supplies in the desert meant to save the lives of migrants. And, in certain cases, individuals apprehended by US Border Patrol agents have been arbitrarily denied food and water. Recently, in June of 2018, a US Border Patrol agent shot an unarmed woman. In December of 2018, 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin and 8-year-old Felipe Alonzo-Gomez both died in US Border Patrol custody.
After the NBPC originally endorsed Trump for president in 2016, thousands of people urged the American Federation of Labor and Congress (AFL-CIO) to withdraw NBPC’s membership. According to the NBPC Union member FAQ page, the NBPC is still a AFL-CIO member.