Those forgotten heroes fighting the forgotten war on the nation’s borders are still on duty protecting the country, but working without pay during the government shutdown.
Border Patrol agents, though deemed “essential personnel” like members of the military are, were not included in the legislation that ensured the troops were still paid during the shutdown.
And after having already faced furloughs and pay cuts due to sequestration, Border Patrol agents are feeling an even worse financial crunch.
Shawn Moran, vice president of the National Border Patrol Union, and Stuart Harris, vice president of the Local 1929 of the National Border Patrol Council, spoke to the Washington Free Beacon on the financial strain agents are facing.
Noting that agents are still working, still “on the front lines risking their lives,” but not getting paid, while members of Congress collect their paychecks, make agents “feel like a political football,” Moran said.
“At this point, most of our agents and members are extremely frustrated. If you look at what we have been through this year already, the government lock out is yet another example of how the morale of our agents is probably the worst it’s ever been,” Harris told the paper.
The Free Beacon reported the measures Border Patrol agents have had to take to keep their families fed and pay their bills during the shutdown.
According to the article:
Many agents have reached out to their creditors to explain they could expect delayed payments, according to Harris.
Others are taking low-interest loans from their credit unions to pay their bills, Moran said.
Unemployment is another option some border patrol agents are considering, but Harris explained it varies from one state to the next.
“Some states require being furloughed for a minimum amount of time before one can file for those benefits,” he said.
Besides the agents not receiving paychecks, training at the Customs and Border Patrol academy has “shut down,” and federal prosecutions have slowed down.
“The bottom line is that I think most, if not all, federal employees are sick and tired of being used as political pawns,” Harris said.