While Americans argue and debate over immigration laws, civil liberties and additional troops in connection with the U.S./Mexico border, a lone agent with the U.S. Border and Customs Protection rolled his vehicle up onto a hillside -- just a 7-iron shot away from the same border everyone's been yelling about -- and fell asleep.
The problem is, the agent was in a "company" vehicle with the engine on and was awakened by a television news crew.
The crew, in the area just north of the San Ysidro border crossing on an unrelated assignment, drove up on the vehicle and at first thought the officer may have been in trouble. As they approached the SUV, they spotted him asleep in the driver's seat and rapped on the window to wake him.
He appeared startled and thankful to be awakened, saying he had had a rough day the day before and didn't get any sleep.
All was well, except of course for the photographs of the vehicle in the precarious position.
When shown the photographs Thursday, a spokesperson for the U.S. Border and Customs Protection said any agent sleeping while on duty is not acceptable and that they're looking into the matter.
Rodney Scott, who is the acting deputy chief patrol agent of the San Diego section, said the agent was put on administrative enforcement leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation.
"We take this incident very seriously," Scott said. "Vigilance is one of the core values of [the] Border Patrol. Any inattention to duty is not tolerated, but an incident like this potentially disrespects the thousands of agents out there carrying out this job every single day."
Scott, who said he did not believe the agent was working a double shift, said that he believes that the incident is an isolated one and is not part of a larger systematic problem.
"The supervisors and the watch commanders work very closely with their teams," Scott said. "If this was a widespread problem, we would know about it already."
Pedro Rios of the American Friends Services Committee said the last thing the border needs is the 1,200 National Guard troops President Barack Obama pledged this week to send to the border.
"There has been such an increase in Border Patrol over the past several years that there is an excess of Border Patrol agents -- so much that they're finding themselves with nothing to do, and in this case, this Border Patrol agent was falling asleep," Rios said.
The first offense for sleeping on duty can carry range of penalties, up to and including termination.