Brownsville, TX – A U.S. Border Patrol agent was hit by a bullet fired from the Mexican side of the Rio Grande River on Tuesday, investigators said.
The round, fired from a small-caliber weapon, grazed the unnamed agent in the back of his head, The Brownsville Herald reported.
The agent was treated for non-life threatening injuries, and was released from a local hospital.
U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Marcelino Medina said he was unable to specify what time the shooting took place.
He said the unnamed agent was a member of the Riverine Unit, which patrols the river by boat.
“On Tuesday, December 26, 2017, a Border Patrol Agent assigned to the Riverine Unit sustained a non-life threatening injury from a small caliber weapon resulting from an assault originating from the Mexican Riverbank,” Medina said in a statement, according to the Brownsville Herald. “The incident is currently under investigation. More information will be provided as it becomes available.”
It is unknown whether or not the shooter has been identified or apprehended.
Assaults against Border Patrol agents have steadily risen as efforts to secure the U.S. southern border have increased, The Epoch Times reported.
Agents were attacked on 786 occasions in fiscal year 2017 – a 73 percent increase from the 454 assaults reported in fiscal year 2016.
National Border Patrol Council spokesman Agent Chris Cabrera said that a major reason the attacks against law enforcement continue is because the justice system fails to crack down on perpetrators.
“The assistant U.S. attorneys are pretty soft on criminals who assault our agents,” he told The Epoch Times. “So they choose to assault our agents because they know they’re not going to face any jail time if they do.”
In some cases, suspects fled the U.S. prior to being arrested.
“If they are never apprehended, it’s impossible to prosecute,” an unnamed Justice Department official told The Epoch Times. “Further, if they do attempt to return, there’s a high likelihood that we’ll never know that they committed said assault, which decreases the likelihood for that charge.”
In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions assured agents that anyone who attacked a member of their agency would serve time in prison.
Despite the declaration, not much has changed, Agent Cabrera said.
“It’s like pulling teeth with these [prosecutors],” he said. “They don’t want to take these cases because there’s not enough blood or there’s not enough damage to the agent. There doesn’t have to be a required amount of blood or broken bones or missing teeth for them to prosecute.”
Blue Lives Matter spoke with a retired Border Patrol agent who said that
there are so many attacks on officers patrolling the borders that the U.S. Attorney’s Office couldn’t begin to keep up with the prosecutions.
“They’ve quadrupled the number of officers patrolling the border over the last 20 years, but they haven’t increased the number of prosecutors or federal marshals proportionately,” he said.
“You add more cops – what happens to the system? The jail gets overloaded. The courts are overloaded. Increasing border control is great, but if you’re not going to support them through the judicial system, what’s the point?” the former CBP agent asked.