Congressmen who visit the U.S.-Mexico border unannounced are being monitored by the Department of Homeland Security, and at least one U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent has been suspended for speaking to a congressman without first getting supervisory clearance, according to documents obtained by the Daily Bulletin.
Congressional members interviewed by the newspaper said they were unaware until recently that Border Patrol agents were required to file Significant Incident Reports - normally used for shootings and other serious border incidents - when congressional members made unannounced visits in the summer along the U.S.-Mexico border.
A second document obtained by the paper reveals that one agent was suspended for 10 days without pay for speaking with Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who made an unannounced visit to the border in May.
"Preventing Congress from speaking freely to federal employees violates at least two federal statutes, and agents are fearful of telling the truth," said King, who recounted several visits to the Mexican border when Border Patrol agents would not speak with him for fear of reprisal.
"Filing these reports is a form of intimidation. If anyone is going to be punished, then they should be punished for not speaking to a member of Congress, rather than for telling the truth."
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