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Agent Fired for Legalization Views Sues Border Patrol

The US Border Patrol is being sued by a former agent who was fired in 2009 after expressing opinions in support of drug legalization and of sympathy for illegal immigrants to a coworker. In a lawsuit filed in US district court for the Western District of Texas in El Paso last week, former agent Bryan Gonzalez, 26, alleges he was fired for exercising his First Amendment rights to free speech.

Bryan Gonzalez (r) graduates from the Border Patrol Academy (Image courtesy Bryan Gonzalez via ACLU-NM)
Gonzalez was fired just before finishing his two-year probationary period with Customs and Border Protection's El Paso sector. That sector includes New Mexico and West Texas, and the ACLU of New Mexico (ACLU-NM) has taken up Gonzalez' case.

"Firing a public servant because of their political opinions is an egregious violation of the First Amendment," the ACLU-NM said in a press release. "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."

According to the ACLU-NM, things went south for Gonzalez after a conversation with a coworker: "Gonzalez pulled his vehicle up next to a fellow CBP agent who was in the same vicinity," the group said. "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 US-Mexican citizen, he understood the economic factors that drive migrants to cross the border without documentation to seek work," the group explained.

"Word of Gonzalez’s opinions on these matters quickly spread to his supervisor, who informed the Joint Intake Command in Washington, DC. Internal Affairs launched an investigation soon after, and the Border Patrol terminated Gonzalez in October 2009," the ACLU-NM noted.

In his termination letter, the agency wrote 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. "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 US Border Patrol to retaliate against me for exercising my free speech rights guaranteed by the very Constitution I swore to uphold."

Gonzalez is gaining support from at least one law enforcement group. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). LEAP issued a statement Tuesday saying it stood by Gonzalez.

"There's no doubt that the so-called 'war on drugs' is a gigantic failure and that it causes violence, hurts our economy and forces dedicated law enforcers to risk their lives in the line of fire for a lost cause," said Terry Nelson, a former US Border Patrol agent who is now a board member for LEAP. "But whether you think we should legalize drugs or not, you have to support the right of brave law enforcers like Bryan Gonzalez to exercise the First Amendment and share their views on policies that impact them on a daily basis."

Gonzalez and the ACLU-NM are asking the court to find that the Border Patrol violated his First Amendment free speech rights and are seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

El Paso , TX
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Free speech

Couldn't agree more with the ACLU the border patrol was dead wrong an un-American to fire him for exercising his rights to speak. Now if he had let drug smugglers go it would be different but he did not. And the agent who snitched is a bitch!

War crimes for the Mexican president

War crimes for the Mexican president



Mexican president eliminates democratically elected politicians who would not support the medical monopolies lies and propaganda, as he continues his genocide unimpeded. Egypt had its white police, Hitler had his SS. Troops, America has its DEA as they try to tell use we can’t have an Amsterdam in America and with two shooting a night in every major city you can be assured these Talibomb are only stealing cars from the handicap and attacking cancer and scoliosis patients. Read more in the book About Christians and [email protected]


[email protected]

No one should ever be fired

No one should ever be fired for their political views, regardless for whom one works, even if it is the government. That is the main thing our Founders wanted for the people -- POLITICAL freedom of speech.

Not so quick

As a Veteran I would have, and still would, have given my life to protect the freedoms of others.  However, one thing we know as a Soldier is this:  we may fight for democracy but we don't live it.  In my opinion, personal opinions do not belong on the job.  Yes, everyone is entitled to their opinion off the job.  Should this Officer had been fired?  I am not in the chain of command or in the know so I can't say either way.  But having been a Federal Employee, they just don't fire people for any good reason.

Mr. Smith did you attempt to contact the Justice Department or the Department of Personnel Affairs to find out the other side of the story?  From this article you did not which shows that you did NOT want to provide a fair, balanced and RESPONSIBLE news piece.  This is the exact problem with the main stream media, they typically will only provide one side of the story.  Just as the ACLU is saying this termination is un-American, by not providing the other side's story that is irresponsible journalism.

But having been a member of this website for a number of years, I know how the articles are written :-)

There must fairness and equality in everything.  Decision MUST well researched and made with as much information as possible.  Not based on knee jerk reactions or emotional outbursts.


This is the Greatest Nation in the World and we are abusing it everyday.

Our government does not play fair!

"personal opinions do not belong on the job" 

You mean personal opinions do not belong on the job if they differ with your opinions.

As in the Mark Emery case, you should not win the argument by silencing the other side. It just means that you do not have valid arguments.

"Our government does not play fair"

Our?  Really?  Our as in ours?  That's the point.  Its not really ours any more.  Its just an occupying power that many are forced to live under.

You sir, make an excellent slave

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

The TSA agents putting their hand down childrens' pants are "just doing their jobs." The East Germans spying and reporting their neighbors are just doing as they were told. This is the greatest nation in the world but we are losing it because people like you do not speak up to tyranny when its kicking down your front door.

I was a federal employee also

I was a federal employee also and yes they DO fire people without just cause. I was also a union steward for years and can't count all of the times some twit (no offense to goldfish) of a supervisor took action against an employee solely for expressing a valid observation. When the first report of an employee "going postal" occurred, there was no surprise expressed by the employees in the Post Office that it happened, only that it hadn't happened sooner. Don't give me that nonsense that the Feds are upright and fair!!!!!!! It's the "knee jerk" reactions of those tasked with personnel management that is the problem. This IS the greatest nation in the world, but it's not the little people that are abusing it. It's those in charge.

Greatest nation- Gott mit uns

It is not a reflex response of many.  It is further drawing of the lines in the sand that is demarcating opposing forces- those that simply follow whatever the government tells them to do with their allies who profit by such trends and those who reject blind obedience to authority and chose to base their behavior and actions on reason and the adherence to thereof- including the Constitution - minus that Dreaded Scott compromise.

This country has many great accomplishments ....and some hidden shame.  I was born in the U.S. of U.S. parents.  We moved.  I learned three different national anthems before the age of six...and I remember thinking they all can't be right.   I have good close friends of cuban ancestry who risked their lives to come here when they were young children....and now they are flabbergasted at the government slogan crap that is being taught to their children in the U.S. school system which is very similar to what they heard as children in Castro Cuba. 

Vectors are important.  They define direction and force.  Or...its not where the hockey puck has been that is is where it is going.

Open your eyes...view with broad temporal view...over time.  This is not the nation of our parents.  There have been many good changes- improved civil rights for blacks, etc.  But ask yourself...if you are not a government many months out of the year do I work for the government?   Furthermore, we have crossed the precipice of no return with such benchmarks as that which occurred about seven years ago...the Karl Marx line...when we reached a point where over half of the voting population pays little or no federal income tax ..yet it is usually this same voting majority that clammors for more and more ineffective goverment programs (like the "War on Drugs") that is increasingly being burdened upon the shoulders of a dwindling tax paying minority....the ones without the means to either pay off those in political power...or the inability to buy one's way to power...or the inability to hire a troup of tax lawyers...or the inability to become an international citizen with optons of escape. 

More and more the government grows.  More and more the unmodified undesicrated version of the Constitution becomes a remote memory of history as both major political parties use their high price lawyers to gut it for their own party's political gain.  More and more individuals become further dependent upon the government...including those agents involved in the war on drugs.  And the words of Jefferson " A government big enough to give you eveything you want, is big enought to take away everything you have."  We now have a currency backed up by nothing more than political promises.  We have a political elite who often exempts themselves from the laws they pass on the rest of us poor sods; Congress is exempt from paying back student loans...Congress does not have to participate in Medicare and Social Security...the list goes on and on and on and on....  On our current course I would not be surprised in our current race to the bottom...and that is exactly what it is...if we end up with a similar Soviet style economy whereby "we pretend to work because they pretend to pay us."   I do not think our Founding Fathers would be sitting idly by if they were still with us.  


If a marijuana plant is growing naturally in the wild is it breaking the law?  Just wondering.


Funny comment, lol. But, really, the fed position is a shame. The fed has been and continues to try to eradicate the entire species - cannabis.

federal employee or military or Boarder Patrol

as a civilian I have many many more rights.. I like the above poster GK have/had spent 22 yrs of honorable military service... it is not a democracy you can not express your personal feelings while performing your job period. You belong to uncle sam and you are to be pc about it too. Meaning you are PRO policy for who ever you work for while working for them (on duty) True it seems petty but, if you have no experience in this area then please don't add your two cents. I now work, for the Govt and the same policies still pertain. 


You may not like it but, it's how it works around here.

"you may not like it but, its how it works around here':

Great.  Another Milgram experiment success story.  Probably not a member of Oath Keepers either.


sane conversation can provoke insane responses.

1st Amendment rights among Border Agents

This is yet another example of the cavalier disregard for Constitutional rights which exists in the present administration.  These self-righteous egomaniacs take a sworn oath to uphold, preserve, and protect the Constitution of The United States.  Once in office, that sworn oath becomes an inside joke that never meant anything to any one of these traitors to this great country.  None of them ever had any intention of protecting or preserving the Constitution.  Quite the opposite.  Their core beliefs stand on a platform of destroying this country from within, chipping away at the Constitution because it stands in the way of their plans to make America into a Fascist/Socialist satellite country of Europe.  Obama only cares if American citizens have jobs insofar as it supports his personal agenda to take over the country and control every aspect of human life in these United States.  He truly believes, against all evidence to the contrary, that the federal government can plan and control every part of your existence as an American citizen.  This country is in dire need of rescue from these leftist, statist usurpers to the governance of this country.  Freedom of speech interferes with the propaganda from Eric Holder and Barack Obama just as it stood in the way of Adolph Eichmann and the rest of the NAZI party.  If American citizens continue to work their jobs and worry about paying their bills, rather than becoming involved in the most important political process that has taken place in this country since the time of the founders, then the sheep will indeed be led to the slaughter.  We MUST stand together against this threat to our way if life.  Adherence to the word and the spirit of the Constitution of The United States is the ONLY thing which has a chance at saving our country and indeed, our way of life.  This present administration has been the absolute worst offender in history as far as suppressing all dissent and stopping the United States citizens from getting access to the truth regarding the actions that are being taken in Washington,  Actions, I might add, that ARE NOT in our best interests as free citizens.  Our freedoms and liberties are being taken away from us, one by one, until eventually we will have NO rights and liberties since the government will be in complete control.  Your children and grandchildren will find themselves in a position of servitude to an aggregation of organized and selfish interest,

concurrence with some disagreement

But it is not only from the Left wing.  It is also from the Right wing.  Statist abound on both sides....while those of us in the middle fuselage of this hijacked plane get jostled about. It reminds me of the old story about a poor lawyer in a small town.  He was the one and only lawyer in the town.  Then one day another lawyer moved to the same town.  Then they both started doing well.  The Left and Right are playing us for fools and feeding off of us.  Despite their differences they are allies much like the opposite sides of a bad coin.  So, as the district of criminals continues its treason...and some state governments are not much better....we are slowly losing the remnants of what once was a great country.  It is as though what freedom the failed ideology of Communism could not kill off is surely now at risk ...and almost equally so...under the system that we now live in...essentially a Capitalist Fascist State.  The remedy for this malady would be to stop taxing corporations and therefore negate any legitimate Constitutional claim of Corporations for representation.    By simply following the "spirit" of the Constitution has let Pandora's box open for the Sophist of both Left and Right to further gut the Constitution.  Better to stick to the letter. (Oy, that even rhymes).  Freedom is on a slow march to death now.  Choice...the freedom to being taken away.  For instance, if one goes on Social Security disability then one must go on Medicaire whether one wants to or not....Thank you very much President Bush, Right Wing member.  Ambiguity in law is the ally of the tyrant.  

Selfish interest is not in and of itself a bad thing.  For those that would tear down the personal boundaries of an individual's skin of existence in order to make for a one big happy Collective society whereby we "can all just get along"...the dark future would be a culture of one for all, all for all and none for one...especially the one that does the work....which is why they stop working.

It is the preservation of self and INDIVIDUAL liberties in the Bill of Rights and espoused by Locke in the Rights of Man that we must fight...literally if need preserve it.  Better dead than red.  Εμπρός, λοιπόν.

Government Mandated Delusions

There are modern legal precedents involving police officers who made similar statements about the drug war and who were terminated from their jobs, only to win their cases and be reinstated with backpay and other damage payments.  We can expect the same to happen for Bryan Gonzalez.

Mr. Gonzalez’s statements are probably no different from those likely made during alcohol prohibition by people in similar professional categories who saw the end coming.  Or those made by ordinary German citizens in 1943 when it was clear to even much of the leadership that the German war effort was doomed.  Some of those same German citizens were executed for their candor, as in the case of 22-year-old Sophie Scholl.

There is no legal requirement in the U.S. Constitution that mandates people must live in a constant state of delusion about the world around them.  Far from it.  The Constitution is specifically geared to maintaining a free and open society for everyone in the United States, and to protect citizens from encroachment by those wanting a closed society merely to support some ideological nonsense like Nazism or a drug free world.

Mr. Gonzalez had every legal right to make the statement he did about the futility of the drug war.  In fact, if other border agents feel like speaking up, they should do so now.  Taking some vacation time and being awarded punitive damages money in a court proceeding never hurt anyone. 


this country

This Country is to be run by the people for the people. Let's put the power back in the people's hands

this is the reason the exact

this is the reason the exact reason why you should read what is written in the contracts you sign when in the process of being hired. the way that things are now are pretty much any company or corporation that you work for has some sort of initial paperwork that you have to sign during your orientation period that states that they can fire you for any reason with out notice. I've worked at a lot of companies and most of them had it right in front on the fucking application. IT is for the reason that if the employer just flat out doesn't like you or your opinions then they want to be able to fire you. And if you don't want to have to sign that because you want to keep your constitutional rights while on the job well then tough shit cause there not gonna hire you. I bring this up because congress is controlled by these same corporations and they want you to just oblige and the more that you are controlled the easier it is for them. you are afraid of punishment so you don't steal, you cant voice your opinion of your pay to co workers because you are afraid that you will be fired and as a nation we are afraid to stand up to the man because we all work for the man and will be fired for our opinions. wake up America if you have a job for any corporation you are already being mind fucked into silencing your freedom of speech, because there is this little voice in your head saying what if my boss sees me at this protest, what if someone higher up in command see me here on some news cast and says that guy is a liability he is no longer controlled. fuck that i think we all need to grow a pair and stand up to the man everyday in numbers until we can have our constitutional rights back, stop shopping, stop using operations and malls to shop. wait it has gone to far we cant just stop because we are all dependent on them for everything our food comes from on average 15,000 miles away, our clothes are all made in japan or china and soon china will just come out and say that they own us and make us work for them. they are waiting for the tight time to say it to not cause a nation to lose faith in a already corrupt and bought out government.

Today, I was asking my friend

Today, I was asking my friend - what the hell happened to our America?  I don't understand because we have fallen into such a deep hole that I am having a hard time imagining a time when it will get any better at all.  Our political institution is a joke, our religious institutions are lost and devoid of any spiritual fulfillment, and our society is in a constant state of negativity and fear, everyone just passes each other by on the street, head down.  Something is bound to happen, all these twats in power don't understand that the bubble will burst, and that the more time passes, the more pressure is put on this bubble.  What we need is a new system, capitalism is fucking all of us royally and our other options are as equally grim.  I love the idea that the new Zeitgeist Movie  (2011) proposes, the creation of a completely new system.  Oviously you can use the good parts of older systems, but the point is to evolve.  We need to evolve our financial system, we need to evolve our religious institutions, we need to evolve our social sphere.  It makes alot of sense, we should be constantly evolving these things, just because something works today, doesn't mean it will work tomorrow, hence the constant adaptation.  I highly recommend this movie to all of you guys, I am certain you will be amazed.  Their older movies were eye opening as well, but the new one really puts everything into a very logical and intelligent frame.  All of this stuff affects the drug war, which is just another war on the people of this earth.  When will we be free?


not quite

I'm afraid you are confusing capitalism with cronyism, which is what you should call the Fed Reserve-WallStreet-White House troika. Capitalism is pretty much what people do when left alone. It is compatible with liberty, most other notions for "running the economy" are not. Careful now!

Free Thought

This is an expression of the fear that rules the day on the side of prohibition.It is a system that oppresses the soul.No bad thoughts must enter.The enemy must be beaten back and no ground given.These people really believe that they are on the side of the righteous.They must,therefore,see us as evil and beyond redemption.How is it that after 100 years of failure,they can really believe that doing more of the same thing will lead to a different result?I believe that is the very definition of insanity.

Say what

Opposing the policy of your employer?  That will get you fired from just about any job.  It's got nothing to do with first amendment rights or what have you.  You can say anything you want, but be prepared for the consequences.  I can't say that I sympathize with him one bit.  Based on what I heard, he was partial to illegal immigrants.  And he expected to keep his job PROTECTING THE U.S. BORDER FORM ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS??? LOL.  Ok, now I think I have officially heard it all.    Isn't employment in this country "at will", meaning that an employer can fire you for pretty much any reason (as long as doing so doesn't violate any law)?


So, you have knowledge that Mr. Gonzalez failed to perform his duties for which he was employed for?  That is to you have knowledge that he disobeyed the procedures of his department in any manner, form of behavior?  Not thought but behavior?  Or is it now that we are accepting the concept of "thought police".   

As long as it didn't violate any law?  So, are you supporting the converse that anything in a law is the "rule of thumb"  whereby it was legal to beat one's wife with a stick as long as it was less than the width of the thumb?

Say what?

Opposing the policy of your employer?  That will get you fired from just about any job.  It's got nothing to do with first amendment rights or what have you.  You can say anything you want, but be prepared for the consequences.  I can't say that I sympathize with him one bit.  Based on what I heard, he was partial to illegal immigrants.  And he expected to keep his job PROTECTING THE U.S. BORDER FORM ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS??? LOL.  Ok, now I think I have officially heard it all.   Isn't employment in this country "at will", meaning that an employer can fire you for pretty much any reason (as long as doing so doesn't violate any law)?  I think the Border Patrol was well within their rights.  Perhaps he should consider it a lesson learned.

I guess it doesn't matter

I guess it doesn't matter what our Constitution says.....we should just all keep our opinions to ourselves and keep our mouths shut!!!???  If officer Gonzales was doing his job then that is all that should be taken into account... he was doing more than a lot of people would do.....

Government Employee First

Anyone who has ever worked for a government entity (employed by or elected into) knows that political correctness is part of the job 24/7/365. I know that people say things to their co-workers that they have worked with for years and feel as though it's ok to speak their mind. Sorry, it doesn't work that way. It's great to have an opinion, thought, idea etc. but keep in mind where you work.

Working for Border Patrol and you telling your co-workers you have sympathy for illegal immigrants is like you working for DEA and saying that you understand why some people sell drugs to survive. Common sense tells you to keep your opinions to yourself when you are at work. If you need to spout off, then go to your friends and family, that's what they are there for.

Let's face it, the story says that he made minor comments, but how do we really know what he said. The reporter wrote the story from the point of view of a man that's fired and disgruntled. He could have said a lot more and since no one but Gonzalez and the actual co-worker know what was said, then how can anyone speculate that it's the fault of the Border Patrol?

Anyone who has worked for the government

So, if what you say is true then have the government put it in its policy and procedure manuals and clearly stated in a position statement. 

"It is part of your job requirement at all times, both while working and not working, that you support the current political position of whatever political powers are in control."

Let the government clearly put its pen to the paper...for all to see.

Please explain to me....if this becomes policy....what then distinguishes the U.S. as a free country?


Disgruntled?  He should be outraged.  He did nothing wrong.  There are no actions....I repeat actions...that justify this man's termination.  Or...let me would tell him something colloquial like...."don't take it personally"  which is long a you are not a person.

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