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20 Nov, 2017 19:38

Trump, GOP renew calls for border wall after Border Patrol agent dies on job

Trump, GOP renew calls for border wall after Border Patrol agent dies on job

A US Border Patrol agent died Sunday from injuries sustained in an incident near El Paso, Texas, in which the circumstances were not clear. President Trump and GOP politicians renewed their calls to build a border wall.

Agent Rogelio Martinez, 36, and his partner were on patrol in the Big Bend sector of southwestern Texas when the incident occurred and Martinez died. His partner, whom the authorities have not identified, remains hospitalized in serious condition.

An official statement from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) – the agency which oversees the Border Patrol – says that Agent Martinez died “as a result of injuries sustained while on patrol.”

Art Del Cueto, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, told the El Paso Proud that “one agent was murdered,” adding that “we strongly believe rocks were what was used.”

The FBI has taken over the investigation into the incident. Jeanette Harper, head of the Bureau’s El Paso office, dismissed reports that the agents were shot.

"They were not fired upon," she said. "There are so many different agencies working together that we need to come together and develop a timeline."

Rather than wait for the results of the investigation, President Donald Trump called for the expansion of the US-Mexico 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!” he tweeted Sunday evening.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Governor Greg Abbott also characterized the incident as an attack. Cruz cited the “ongoing threat that an unsecure border poses” to call for more resources for the border wall.

“Our prayers are with the families of this Border Patrol Agent who was killed & the other who was injured in this attack in Texas,” said Abbott.

A Border Patrol spokesmen told Houston’s KUHF radio on Sunday that the agency could not provide any details on the cause or circumstances surrounding the agent’s death.

“Agent Martinez was responding to activity while on patrol with another agent, who was also seriously injured. We are fully supporting the ongoing investigation to determine the cause of this tragic event. On behalf of the quarter of a million frontline officers and agents of DHS, my thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Agent Martinez and to the agent who is in serious condition,” acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke said in a statement.

The House Homeland Security Committee approved the $15 billion Border Security For America Act in October. The bill would authorize $10 billion for construction of the border wall, and another $5 billion to improve ports of entry. The bill would also add 5,000 Border Patrol agents and 5,000 CBP officers.