Individuals who suspected a border agent’s death in November was related to an attack, possibly from an undocumented immigrant — including President Donald Trump — jumped to conclusions on the matter.
No evidence exists to support the claim that Agent Rogelio Martinez, who was killed by blunt force trauma, was the victim of any attack, according to an autopsy report. There is no definitive conclusion yet for what caused his death, but it’s wrong to assume he died under the conditions some have suggested.
“To date, this investigation has not conclusively determined how Agent Martinez and his partner ended up at the bottom of the culvert and no suspects have been linked to this incident,” a statement from the FBI read. “None of the more than 650 interviews completed, locations searched, or evidence collected and analyzed have produced evidence that would support the existence of a scuffle, altercation, or attack on Nov. 18, 2017.”
Martinez’s partner, Agent Stephen Garland, radioed for help on the night of the incident, but he said he doesn’t recall what happened. A separate agent who arrived at the scene of the incident said it was possible their vehicle was sideswiped, landing them into a culvert.
The ambiguity over what happened, however, didn’t prevent lawmakers in Washington from using the event as reason to support their immigration policies. Trump, for example, tweeted out shortly after the incident that the “attack” was indicative of the need for a border wall.
Border Patrol Officer killed at Southern Border, another badly hurt. We will seek out and bring to justice those responsible. We will, and must, build the Wall!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 20, 2017
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) as well as Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Texas) also suggested Martinez’s death was an attack.
“This is a stark reminder of the ongoing threat that an unsecure border poses to the safety of our communities and those charged with defending them," Cruz said in a statement.
Yet it’s still unknown what led to the agent’s death, and those who claimed it was due to an immigrant are making assumptions without knowing any of the facts. It’s just as plausible that the attack on the agents was perpetrated by an American citizen.
To Republican lawmakers, however, it seems that detail isn’t important, so long as it results in them scoring political points. It’s sad that they have to use an agent’s death to do so, and it provides a transparent view of their values and ethics.