Congress Probes Job Action Against Border Patrol Agents

By Jeff Johnson | July 7, 2008 | 8:28 PM EDT

Capitol Hill ( - The ranking Republican on a Senate Judiciary subcommittee responsible for oversight of the Immigration and Naturalization Service is questioning that agency's decision to discipline two Border Patrol agents for publicly pointing out security weaknesses along the U.S. border with Canada.

"As a longtime advocate for whistleblowers, I am shocked and angry about the INS Border Patrol's retaliation against Border Patrol agents Mark Hall and Robert Lindemann," Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a letter to INS Commissioner James Ziglar Friday.

"Based on this situation, it appears that some managers at the INS and Border Patrol are more worried about suppressing embarrassing information than enforcing immigration laws and protecting the nation's security," he concluded.

In a Sept. 19, 2001, article in the Detroit Free Press, Hall and Lindemann detailed serious inadequacies in their agency's efforts to stop terrorists from entering the U.S. from Canada. "The northern border," Hall told the newspaper, "has been basically abandoned by the government."

Since their disclosures, the two men have been prohibited from working together and have been assigned to different shifts, where they earn less pay, according to Grassley. The Iowa Republican says the Border Patrol delayed a plan to suspend Hall and Lindemann for 90 days without pay and demote them for one year, pending the outcome of an investigation.

More to follow.