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ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS
Honor Border Patrol Agent Javier Vega Jr.
On August 3, 2014, Javier Vega Jr., or “Harvey” as his family and friends knew him, was enjoying family time with his wife (Andrea), sons (Jiovanni & Jarod), and his parents (Javier Sr. & Marie). The family was fishing at one of their favorite family spots located in an isolated area of Willacy County, Texas, which sits approximately 35 miles north of the U.S. / Mexico Border in South Texas (Rio Grande Valley). As they were enjoying their day, two men (who were later identified as criminal illegal aliens) approached the family and attempted to rob them, subsequently opening fire on the family. Harvey was shot and killed during the commission of this criminal act, while attempting to protect his family from these two criminal aliens, who had both been previously deported several times. During the shootout with the two criminal aliens, Javier Sr. was also shot and is still recovering to this day. Harvey lost his life doing what he had been doing all of his life, which was protecting others. As a former U.S. Marine, Harvey was drawn to the Border Patrol out of a sense of duty and patriotism. His life was cut short in front of his spouse, children and parents, a tragedy in and of itself, but when you add the fact that his murderers were criminal aliens illegally in the United States who never should have been present in our country, it makes the situation that much more tragic.
Border Patrol Agent Javier Vega Jr. entered on duty with the Border Patrol on February 11, 2008, with BP Class 745 and graduated from the BP Academy in Artesia, NM. He was assigned to the Kingsville, Texas Border Patrol Station and was assigned as a canine handler, a position he gave his all to.
The painful and unnecessary process that Harvey’s family has had to endure for two years in order to get his death classified as a Line of Duty Death (LODD) has become unbearable and disgustingly slow. Unfortunately, the Border Patrol’s leadership has all but been silenced on the matter (they weren’t even allowed to proclaim his name at a recent Law Enforcement Memorial in South Texas in which the names of fallen Border Patrol Agents was read aloud to those gathered to honor their sacrifice), as the decision as to whether a death is classified as a Line of Duty Death is left to the CBP Commissioner, in this case R. Gil Kerlikowske. Although the Commissioner has stated his “support” of declaring BPA Vega’s death a LODD, his actions have not indicated what his words would have you believe. Commissioner Kerlikowske is the only person within CBP (according to the CBP Valor Memorial Directive) that has the authority to declare a LODD for CBP’s Valor Memorial. Commissioner Kerlikowske has attempted to push the decision off on another entity, the Public Safety Officers Benefit Act Board, which falls under the Department of Justice, and who unfortunately has a backlog of cases to adjudicate.
The fact that the CBP Commissioner has twice failed to honor BPA Vega at CBP Valor Memorial Services in 2015 and 2016 (at CBP Headquarters in Washington, DC), and has only offered that he “supports” the LODD classification is an unspeakable tragedy and disservice to Harvey’s family and fellow Border Patrol Agents. Commissioner Kerlikowske’s decision to forgo making a decision, and instead “passing the buck” to DOJ, all the while offering hollow sympathy when questioned about it time and time again by Border Patrol Agents, only furthers the belief amongst the rank-and-file that CBP is out of touch with the men and women of the Border Patrol. We call on CBP Commissioner Kerlikowske to do the right and honorable thing, which is to honor the sacrifice made by Border Patrol Agent Javier Vega Jr. and declare his death a Line of Duty Death.
Without the Commissioner showing leadership and doing the right thing, the Vega family will be forced to endure another painful year of CBP failing to honor a true hero: their son, husband, and father.