SAN DIEGO -- Their job is to secure the border, find those trying to cross illegally into the U.S., apprehend them and send them back where they came from -- but some border agents say that role may be changing.
Members of the Border Patrol Union told Fox 5 the Obama Administration is now asking agents to check undocumented immigrants for eligibility to the president’s executive action on immigration -- known as deferred action -- before processing a deportation.
“That’s the antithesis of what we’re supposed to do,” said Christopher Harris with the Border Patrol Union.
Harris said agents are also being told to review government files and identify any jailed immigrants who might qualify.
Some agents fear the added role could become a distraction and have a negative impact on national security.
“That’s not our job. Let us know, are we going to be Border Patrol agents or are we going to be security guards?” said Border Patrol Union spokesman Gabe Pacheco.
But immigration activists welcome the changes, saying it will help reduce the number of families split by deportation.
“Over 2 million families have been uprooted, devastated by deportation, so anytime that we’re able to prevent a deportation, anytime that we’re able to keep a family intact, together, living in their community, is a victory for us,” said Christian Ramirez, an immigration activist with Alliance San Diego.
The Deferred Action Programs known as DACA or DAPA require immigrants to have a clean criminal record, work or [and] go to school in order to qualify.