Customs and Border Protection officers carry a ceremonial flag in Washington D.C. on May 13, 2008, at a memorial service honoring fallen officers. (James Tourtellotte/CBP)

PERSPECTIVE: ICE Protesters Dishonor the American Flag and Officers Who Risk All

On July 12, a group of protesters gathered at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility in Aurora, Colo., to show their disdain for the agency’s planned immigration ‘roundups’ that weekend. The agency had scheduled arrests for individuals who are in the country illegally and had been given a final order of removal by an immigration judge. Many of those orders had been done ‘in absentia,’ meaning that the individuals had never bothered to appear for their actual immigration hearing to plead their case.

The protesters though, chose to commit the atrocious act of removing the American flag and replacing it with a Mexican flag. Yet, this was not enough for them. They clearly wanted to show the entire world how much they disapprove of President Trump and the officials that are actually enforcing the laws written by Congress – OUR Congress. After replacing the American flag with that of Mexico, this group of people lowered a Thin Blue Line flag, desecrated it and then raised it up again upside down. And still this was not enough for them. They flew a third flag with the words “F**k the Cops” written on it.

Why would they do such a thing? How could they believe that these actions were actually helping their cause? More so, what exactly is their cause if not divisiveness and hatred for simply not understanding the laws that govern our own sovereignty?

For months now, members of Congress such as Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) have been on a tireless endeavor to make the agents and officers of Customs and Border Protection ‘Enemy Number One.’ Their vile and malignant rhetoric, which has depicted our courageous men and women in uniform as Nazis, murderers, rapists and inhumane usurpers, has led many of their followers to take these types of actions.

To make matters worse, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have done nothing to stop or condemn these attacks against our agents and officers.

And now, now they attack what I believe to be the most precious symbol in our country… the American flag.

It could be that I am offended so much by this act because I am a military veteran. It could also be that their actions hurt me because I am a Border Patrol agent and have thousands of brothers and sisters in law enforcement. Brothers and sisters who sacrifice their own families and well-being to enforce the laws that protect us all.

But why would I, a person who grew up as a poor Mexican migrant who picked crops for a living, feel this way? I was that kid who slept on the floor until the age of 15. I was that kid who had to learn English as a second language. Am I not the type of person that these congressional officials are supposedly fighting for? Could it be that having joined the military and later becoming a law enforcement official made them hate me so much?

And not just me: What about the thousands of police officers who risk their lives every day for us all? What of all those soldiers who have given their everything and continue to sacrifice their entire way of life to protect us, protect one another, and protect them… the very people who seem to hate us all, Congress?

What this group of protesters doesn’t seem to understand is the significance of the American flag. Sadly, many in Congress have also forgotten its meaning and why it’s such a precious symbol to millions of Americans… Proud Americans.

In many first-responder organizations such as our military, Customs and Border Protection, fire departments and the hundreds, if not thousands, of police departments throughout our nation, the American flag is a constant reminder of so many things.

It reminds us of the struggles we have endured together as a platoon, a unit, a department, a country.

It humbles us as the sons, daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers who have been at the breaking point with loss yet somehow survived those heartbreaking trials and lived to see another day.

It grants us strength when we need it the most as we face the many obstacles and challenges that life throws at us for merely being a man or woman in uniform who has sworn an oath to defend America.

It stores the memory of all those brothers and sisters we’ve lost in war.

It reminds us of the partners we’ve lost responding to a crime scene, who sacrificed themselves to save a life.

It is our symbol of hope in times of despair such as the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

Lastly, it is our ultimate symbol of love when you add all these reasons together and realize that it unites us and grants us the courage to always do our best because so many individuals that we care for have given their lives doing just that… THEIR BEST FOR US ALL!

The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by Homeland Security Today, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints in support of securing our homeland. To submit a piece for consideration, email HSTodayMag@gtscoalition.com. Our editorial guidelines can be found here.

PERSPECTIVE: Get to Know a Border Patrol Agent Before Casting Judgment

Sergio A. Tinoco is the author of Proud American: The Migrant, Soldier, and Agent and has joined HSToday as a columnist to provide insights and facts about the conditions, challenges, and humanity of the situation on our southwest border. Tinoco started his journey to America as a poor migrant worker of Mexican descent, having to pick crops for a living from the age of 7. As a way to break from the family cycle of farm labor and depending on government welfare programs, he joined the United States Army and served 10 years on active duty. He deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina shortly after the Bosnian War only to find and deal with the aftermath of the genocide that took place there and be caught in the middle of several attacks. His experiences in Bosnia ultimately led to experiencing signs and symptoms related to PTSD. After completing 10 years of military service, Sergio joined the U.S. Border Patrol. Being of Mexican descent and having family in South Texas and in Mexico introduced new issues of having to counter threats against his family and ill-willed opinions of him for arresting and deporting “his own kind.” He is currently serving as a Border Patrol agent, and all observations and columns are his own and not endorsed by CBP or the Border Patrol. Sergio A. Tinoco was born and raised in Rio Grande Valley, commonly known to them as RGV. As a child, he had gone through many struggles. Having to come up with a big decision to leave his family behind at such a young age, Sergio began to live a dangerous life in the battlefield with the US Army. Between the Army and the DHS, he has worked in government service for over twenty years. He earned a master’s degree in organizational management. His wife, also a military veteran, works for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Together, they strive to provide greater opportunities and aspirations to their kids.

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