Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

U.S. Customs and Border Protection – getting paid overtime not to work

Posted by Christopher Coen on July 29, 2011

In this week of federal debt trauma in walks an employee of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to tell us how federal employees at his agency get overtime pay in exchange for not working. But of course all of us who care about refugees and immigrants, for the human beings they are, already know this about government agency workers, as well as their friends in private industry at the resettlement agencies. Many of them do whatever they want to do, and they suffer no consequences whatsoever. That is why we so desperately need passage of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act. Read more in Joe Davidson’s Washington Post column.

During a period when some in Congress and their related policy wonks think federal employees are overpaid, here comes Christian Sanchez, a Border Patrol agent who says he was punished for refusing overtime pay.

His bosses suggested that he get psychological help.

Instead, Sanchez has become a whistleblower, and on Friday he plans to tell gathering on Capitol Hill that he was retaliated against because he would not take overtime for doing no work.

Sanchez is an example of what the Government Accountability Project, a whistleblower advocacy organization, calls “pocketbook whistleblowers.” They allegedly have suffered retaliation for actions that could save the government money.

This emphasis on guarding Uncle Sam’s pocketbook allows whistleblower advocates to broaden the appeal of legislation designed to expand legal protections for employees who disclose government waste, fraud and abuse. Supporting whistleblowers becomes more than helping individual employees who have been mistreated by the system — it becomes into an act of fiscal responsibility.

That approach could increase chances for the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act. It’s come close to passage during the many years it has lingered in Congress, but proponents have not been able to push it across the finish line.

In a letter last month to President Obama and Congress, a group of federal whistleblowers urged them to approve the legislation, telling them that “you have allowed potentially billions of tax dollars to be wasted because all federal workers know they cannot speak up without engaging in professional suicide.”

Sanchez is speaking up, and he has paid a price.

There is little work to do at the Port Angeles, Wash., station, where he is assigned, he said. He calls it a “black hole” where agents have “no purpose, no mission.”

The worst fraud on taxpayers is that we are getting paid overtime not to work,” Sanchez said in a prepared statement. When he first started working at the station, “I noticed it was common practice for everyone to get paid overtime not to work… Read more here

Our own experience with Customs and Border Protection also demonstrated how completely corrupt and debased that federal agency is. Before either the Left or the Right try to spin this case for their own interests, I’d like to remind everyone that for decades both the Democrats and the Republicans have repeatedly contributed to corruption by installing their own cronies in the federal agencies and courts, while turning a blind eye to the damage these people have done to the people and the nation.

I nominate Christian Sanchez as hero of the month. It helps to restore my faith in humanity when I see that our country still has people like this among our ranks.

One Response to “U.S. Customs and Border Protection – getting paid overtime not to work”

  1. nancylee1 said

    re whistle-blowers:

    In the Philadelphia Inquirer, Thomas Drake (who was prosecuted for whistleblowing by the Obama DOJ) and Jesselyn Radack (who was harassed for the same sin at the hands of the Bush DOJ), have jointly written an Op-Ed documenting that — as they put it — the current “administration’s reaction to national-security and intelligence whistle-blowers has been even harsher than the Bush administration’s was.” Meanwhile, the U.S. Government’s former classification czar — furious that Drake was prosecuted for leaking documents marked “classified” for which there was no conceivable secrecy concerns — is trying to strike back against Obama’s war on whistleblowers by formally demanding that the NSA officials who improperly classified those documents be punished. To say that excessive secrecy is a vastly greater problem than unauthorized leaking is to understate the case.
    A surprising war on leaks under Obama
    August 01, 2011

    By Thomas Drake and Jesselyn Radack

    When President Obama took office, federal employees who had exposed wrongdoing or were considering doing so had reason for hope. Eight years of the Bush administration’s relentless retaliation against whistle-blowers had ended, and Obama spoke encouragingly of transparency and due process.

    Since then, the administration has taken some positive steps for whistle-blowers, most notably in (unsuccessfully) advocating legislation to protect them and in loosening the government’s grip on public information. However, its treatment of national-security and intelligence whistle-blowers – arguably the ones we need most – has been brutal. It has pursued multiple prosecutions of such whistle-blowers on espionage charges.


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