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Thursday, January 20, 2011

ACLU-NM Sues Border Patrol for Firing Agent Due to Political Views

Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico (ACLU-NM) issued a statement announcing it has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas on behalf of a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent who was fired because of his personal political opinions (see pdf of complaint). Plaintiff Bryan Gonzalez was an agent with two years of experience and excellent performance reviews when the Border Patrol terminated his employment after learning that Gonzalez held certain political opinions pertaining to drug legalization and immigration.

"Firing a public servant because of their political opinions is an egregious violation of the First Amendment," said ACLU-NM Executive Director Peter Simonson in a written statement. "We cannot require nor should we expect uniformity of thought within our law enforcement institutions. Purging the ranks of government employees who fail "ideological purity" tests is about as un-American as it gets."

ACLU-NM described the facts of the case this way: Patrolling near Deming, New Mexico in April 2009, Gonzalez pulled his vehicle up next to a fellow CBP agent who was in the same vicinity. In the course of a casual discussion concerning the drug-related violence in Mexico, Gonzales remarked that he believed that legalization of drugs would be the most effective way to end the violence. He also related to the other agent that, as a former dual U.S.-Mexican citizen, he understood the economic factors that drive migrants to cross the border without documentation to seek work.

Word of Gonzalez's opinions on these matters quickly spread to his supervisor, who informed the Joint Intake Command in Washington, D.C. Internal Affairs launched an investigation soon after, and the Border Patrol terminated Gonzalez in October 2009, just weeks before his probationary period expired. The termination letter stated that Gonzalez held "personal views that were contrary to the core characteristics of Border Patrol Agents, which are patriotism, dedication, and esprit de corps."

"I was terminated not because my service was inadequate, but because I hold certain opinions that are shared by millions of my fellow Americans," said Gonzalez in a written statement. "I am no less patriotic or dedicated to excellence in my work because I respectfully disagree with some of our current border enforcement policies. It was wrong for the U.S. Border Patrol to retaliate against me for exercising my free speech rights guaranteed by the very Constitution I swore to uphold."

ACLU-NM seeks a declaration by the court that the Border Patrol violated Bryan Gonzalez's First Amendment right to free speech, as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

ACLU-NM Cooperating Attorney George Bach and ACLU-NM Co-legal Directors Julie Sakura and Reber Boult represent the plaintiff in this case.

January 20, 2011 at 10:52 AM in Border Issues, Civil Liberties, Drugs, Alcohol, Hispanic Issues, Immigration, Legal Issues | Permalink

Comments

Shameless! What would we do without the great work of the ACLU?

Posted by: Sean | Jan 20, 2011 5:08:36 PM

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2040882,00.html?xid=huffpo-direct
Mexico's Ex-President Vicente Fox: Legalize Drugs

Posted by: qofdisks | Jan 20, 2011 7:13:57 PM

A METHOD ACTOR

I remember once at rehearsal of a local community playhouse production of "The Diary Of Anne Frank", the actor playing the father Otto Frank suddenly stood up on the front of the stage and pulled a big fat reefer joint out of his pocket and lit it up in a cloud of smoke. As ours is a pretty straight little town, and the theater a carefully guarded family activity, several people actually gasped.

"What’s everybody flipping out for?" he asked. "Suddenly you are all frightened. For the first time, I see you actually IN character! What are you afraid of? Somebody is going to yell at us? If the Police come in the back door now, and we get busted, what do we stand to lose? A few bucks, a few weeks in the local jail? It’s a nice warm place, and you eat every day. And who’s likely to come busting in -- unless one of you slips out and makes a quick phone call?

"In Germany in 1942, it was a capital crime to be busted with matzoh in your chromosomes. If tomorrow the drug warriors took your daughter away to a camp for their final solution to the marijuana menace, would you weep and ask, "What did I do wrong such that she was destroyed by the evil weed?" Someday when they use the power you have given them to prohibit, prevent, prosecute, and punish the use of marijuana, and they take you away for some reason which makes no sense to you, will you then ask, "Where is my moral weakness, such that society should be protected by removing me from it?"

"Some day in this country, it could be a crime to be a heathen, a crime to be unemployed, a crime to refuse to take your medication, or to refuse to vote for one of the Parties’ candidates. You could be sent away for the remission of your sins through the shedding of your blood. You could be foreclosed.

"But don’t worry," the gadfly thespian reassured us. "This is a prop, a simulated marijuana cigarette. This is a simulated hazard, and your life has not been placed at risk. I am only an actor, and not really a Jew."

James Nathan Post www.postpubco.com/theweedwar.htm

Posted by: qofdisks | Jan 21, 2011 5:06:46 PM

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/27/obama-youtube-pot-questions_n_814811.html

Posted by: qofdisks | Jan 27, 2011 11:09:09 AM