HIDALGO COUNTY, Texas (KVEO) — A former Border Patrol agent is raising concerns over the legitimacy of a video posted by Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-18) of migrants crossing on a raft into the United States.
The video has fueled politicians on border security. Now, there are more questions.
“The fact that they were wearing life vests is unusual and they were wearing the COVID blue surgical masks,” said Jenn Budd, a former senior border patrol and senior intelligence agent.
Budd is an immigrant activist and said things in the video are not adding up.
In the video, the smuggler leading the boat wears fatigues and a black ski mask.
She said smugglers often work for the cartel and would not hide their face on a raft.
Budd added smugglers typically attempt to blend in with the migrants, to avoid more severe punishment if they are caught.
“I’ve never seen a smuggler cover his face like that, which told me he knew he was going to be filmed,” said Budd. “Smugglers often are not going to cover their faces. They give orders to the group their crossing if border patrol jumps out of the bushes and yells at them to stop. They blend in with the group.”
She also said smugglers also do not normally provide face masks and life vests.
Congressman Cuellar shared the video on Twitter. In his post, the video is edited with the original sound off and music playing over the video.
“There are many censors most likely cameras and things to alert the Border Patrol, and yet, we don’t see any Border Patrol coming, and we don’t hear anything afterward about what happened to these migrants,” said Budd. “If they were arrested. They just filmed them coming across and load them up in the trucks and that’s it.”
Budd said the video in question was produced by Jaeson Jones. She said Jones works with U.S. Border Patrol and Tripwires & Triggers.
According to Tripwires & Trigger’s website, Jones is a retired Captain from the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Intelligence and Counterterrorism Division.
He supervised Human Intelligence (HUMINT) operations in several nations and managed Intelligence lead operations for Operation Secure Texas.
Jones managed the daily operations of the Texas Rangers, Border Security Operations Center (BSOC).
“He works I believe particularly with the Border Patrol Union to create videos like this and then spreads them through anti-immigrant paid outlets, media outlets,” said Budd. ” And, that is how it got out.”
Budd adds there is another video that was aired by CNN that was taken from a different angle with the same “smuggler.”
“It looks like it was taken the same day,” said Budd. “The Union was aware that CNN was was going to be filming that.”
In the video CNN aired, the scene starts with national correspondent Ed Lavandera down by the Rio Grande near the city of Hidalgo.
He then stumble across a group of migrants loading into a raft. The group of migrants board a raft and are led across by a man in a black ski mask.
The migrants are seen wearing life vests and surgical masks.
“It’s the same exact smuggler, same exact area, same exact boat,” said Budd. “The one that Cuellar is using is the video from Jones, and he was given that video on the same day the video was shot.”
The National Butterfly Center, a conservation organization that became involved in migration issues when the Trump administration attempted to build the border wall across its reservation, posted on Facebook and Twitter about the videos.
The Butterfly Center said the video was arranged for media to be there at the appointed time.
KVEO reached out to Cuellar for an interview. He sent the following statement:
I work closely with the men and women of border patrol to keep me informed as to what’s happening on the ground. We all are seeing thousands of people coming across the river on a weekly basis. This video was provided by border patrol. I trust the men and women of border patrolRep. Henry Cuellar
This video has been played on national outlets, fueling the debate on immigration.
“Used to make political ads. It’s being used to show that the border is out of control. I don’t deny we have an issue with unaccompanied minors but as far as the numbers go for people crossing the border illegally at this moment. It’s nowhere near the emergency crisis,” she said.
When asked what is the need for Border Patrol to put this “production” in place to the former agent, Budd replied with, “because the United States Border Patrol and the Union are horribly upset that Trump didn’t win, they do not like what President Biden is currently doing.”
“I understand Cuellar is a democrat, but it immediately is given to allies of theirs, mostly in the Republican party,” said Budd. “It’s being used to make political adds, to show that the border is out of control.”
Budd said she recognizes there is currently an “issue” with unaccompanied children at the border, but as far as the numbers of people crossing illegally is not near the emergency crisis that the Republican party is making it out to be.
Border Patrol Chief Patrol Agent Brian Hastings of the RGV Sector confirmed to Border Report his agents apprehended over 2,000 migrants on March 18, sending the total number of apprehensions this month in the sector to over 34,000.
KVEO reached out to Border Patrol and Jones for comment, and is still waiting on a response.
Watch the complete interview here: