La Línea

Art Del Cueto – VP, NBPC

Image by Roberta Gentry

In the shadow of a murder trial, a powerful border patrol agent and a reporter/activist develop an unlikely friendship. Maybe.

Listen on Luminary


Lusine – Tropopause – Sensorimotor
Lusine – Canopy – Sensorimotor
Bookworms – Fluctuations in Temperature – New Neighborhoods
Josiah Steinbrick – Interior Districts of the Spirit World – Liquid / Devotion & Tongue Street Blue
Visible Cloaks, Yoshio Ojima & Satsuki Shibano – Lapis Lazuli – FRKWYS Vol. 15: serenitatem
Sontag Shogun – Medewi, after the rain (Julia Kent Remix) – It Billows Up Remixed, Vol. 2
Sontag Shogun – It Billows Up (Orphax Remix) – It Billows Up Remixed, Vol. 2
Lusine – Canopy – Sensorimotor
Lucrecia Dalt – Endiendo – No era sólida


La Línea
Art Del Cueto – Vice President, National Border Patrol Council

Nick: Hey there, it’s Nick. This episode was produced by Ana Adlerstein with Julia Dewitt, Phil Dmochowski and Steven Jackson. It features the voices of Taide Elena Art del Cueto, Ana Adlerstein, and Paul Ingram. Tidy’s English language voiceover was provided by Rosario Murbach. Special thanks also to Felipe De La Hoz, Jazmin Aguilera, Paul Ingram, Areceli Rodríguez, and Jazmin Lopez. Love and Radio is a production of Luminary.

Grandmother: This is the only comfort that we are left with, bringing them flowers and candles.

Grandmother: My grandson was killed by a border patrol. We are in court right now in the second trial, and I think it’s going to be the last one. I don’t know. But of course the defense claims that he was throwing rocks. But there is no video that you can see that he is throwing rocks.

Grandmother: And besides, that’s not true because the videos that they are presenting, he’s not there. They lost the tapes. Because if the video have shown the kid throwing rocks, of course they wouldn’t lost the tape. That would’ve been the end of it. But then … but there is the one up there who hears and sees everything. If there is no justice here on earth, he’s going to pay somehow. Like I said, karma’s going to get him. It is going to get him. May God forgive him because never going to forgive him. Because he kill him with 10 shots in his back. So, we’ll see. We’ll see what God says.

Nick: From Luminary, you’re listening to Love and Radio. I’m Nick van der Kolk. Today’s episode: La Linea, featuring Art del Cueto.

Art: I’m busy all the time. Typical work day to me is 4:00 AM to 7:00 PM, 8:00 PM, 9:00 PM. The other day, I was still taking calls at midnight. As a regular line agent, of course you come into work. You sit in what we call a muster. You speak to the supervisors, they explain any abnormalities that happened on the shift before. They explain what’s going on in what areas, what areas are busier, and then they give you a rundown of where you’re supposed to work that day.

Art: You go out, you get your vehicle, and you go to your assigned area. You could be assigned to a scope truck where you’re watching a screen, seeing who’s crossing where. You could be just a tactical unit where you’re just roaming and checking different areas, checking fences, whatever.

Ana: Are the tasks of all of these essentially just looking for undocumented immigrants?

Art: Yes. That is your primary role is to find undocumented immigrants. Yes.

Ana: Do you like the work of looking for people?

Art: Yeah. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t like it. So, I think it’s a good job.

Ana: Is it fun?

Art: It is fun. It is fun. You’re out here in the middle of nowhere at times. And look at how the desert’s beautiful. So, I think there’s a lot of people that work in an office, they wish they had this view every day.

Ana: And the element of finding people who are hiding from you?

Art: Though more and more lately, it’s not really people that are hiding from you, it’s people that are just coming up to you when they see your vehicle, and they turn themselves in.

Ana: Because they have asylum claims.

Art: Because they have asylum claims.

Ana: But there’s also the phenomenon happens where people don’t turn themselves in, right?

Art: Right. Yes. That happens where you got to chase people down, or … People hear chasing, and it sounds like you’re running through the desert, you know? And it’s not necessarily that. You’re tracking a group is more the actual word of what you’re doing.

Ana: How common do you think it is that you apprehend the entire group that you’re tracking?

Art: I wouldn’t know. I don’t think it’s that common. I think there’s always one or two that gets away. I remember that happening a lot before where people would run, you’d catch the people that were there, and before you were done writing them up or cleaning, doing all the cleanup in the field, some of the individuals that ran would come back all of a sudden and say, “I ran, but I didn’t know where I was going. So, I just came back.”

Ana: Because it’s really dangerous to be on your own in the desert, right?

Art: I think it is. Definitely.

Ana: Yeah.

Art: Especially now in the summer months. It’s horrible.

Ana: Yeah. Are you aware of the amount of deaths in this area?

Art: No, I’m not. I don’t have that statistic.

Ana: Since 2000, it’s almost 3,000 people that have been found.

Art: Wow. That just doesn’t count the ones that haven’t been found, right? Yeah. It doesn’t surprise me.

Ana: One of the causes they attribute to that amount of deaths is chase and scatter. When that one or two individual don’t get picked up by you, then they’re lost. But just in Ajo search and rescue groups this past week have found six bodies all within a mile of rescue beacons.

Art: I wouldn’t know how they would be known of where the rescue beacons are. I guess it’s just some of these rescue beacons are put in the areas where perhaps the border patrol itself have known that it’s areas where they’ve seen more traffic than not.

Ana: So, no more deaths. The volunteer group published a video of water gallons being slashed by border patrol. Do you remember that video last year?

Art: It was longer than that.

Ana: Oh, you’re right. It was 2017. January.

Art: I remember seeing it. I think I saw it on PBS.

Ana: Make sure you get a good shot. Picking up this trash that somebody left on the trail. It’s not yours, is it? All you have to do is tell me. Is it yours? Not yours? You’re not going to tell me, huh?

Ana: But you don’t want people to die in the desert?

Art: No one does.

Ana: Do people dying in the desert, is that upsetting to you?

Art: Anybody that loses their life, it’s got to be upsetting to a point. Think about it, you know? Someone losing their life, it’s a big deal.

Ana: Yeah. Yeah. Have you come across many bodies in the desert?

Art: I have. I’ve come across several. Yes.

Ana: Has there ever been a time where you’ve met a migrant, and been interviewing them or sharing stories, and your view has changed at all based on what you’re learning?

Art: About them crossing illegally?

Ana: Just generally your thoughts about the border, and enforcing the border, and has there been any stories that stand out for you and have made you see anything differently?

Art: No. That was easy. No. It doesn’t. In fact, some of them have made my convictions even stronger. One particular one that stands out is it was a four year old little girl, and she had a blister on her foot from just underneath her toes all the way to the heel of her foot. That just broke my heart. And there was several adults in that group, and I asked them, “Why didn’t you at least pick up the little girl and walk with her?” You know what I mean? And their answer was, “She could walk.” That just angers me. Who would do that? I don’t want those people in America. I don’t want them to be my neighbors. I want people that actually care.

Ana: You haven’t met anyone that you’ve interrogated that you would want to be your neighbor?

Art: I have neighbors. I’m okay with the ones I have. I don’t know … I’ve met a lot of people. I don’t know. I’m not saying they’re all bad. I’ve met people that I’ve given my food to. I’ve met people, when I was full-time out there, I would carry stuffed animals with me in my vehicle. And when I saw kids that I arrested or detained with their parents, I would give them a stuffed animal.

Art: I’m not this, “I don’t like Mexican people. I don’t like people that aren’t American.” I’ve gone out of my way to help people that aren’t American. I do it all the time. I got a fundraiser coming up this weekend that’s for some of these kids that can’t afford medical treatment. I see a lot of these individuals that are protesting against me. When was the last time they went to a hospital and paid for some Mexican kids medical treatment? I’m not that bad guy.

Art: Morally, I think I always want to do the right thing. If people are weaker than you and they’re getting picked on, and there’s a way for you to speak up or stop it, there’s really no reason for you not to.

Ana: I see folks walking across the border as weaker and getting picked on by a lot of forces. Do you not see it that way?

Art: Yeah. But I’m there to make sure that they stop getting picked on. That’s the way I see it. Because I’m not picking on them, I’m enforcing a law, right?

Ana: It’s funny when you say this, Art, I just so wish … Because you’re speaking as the vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, you’re speaking as the president-

Art: You don’t think I’m speaking as me, as Art?

Ana: No. I wish we could take that all away. Because I think you hear what I’m saying, and I think you felt it. I think you felt it in those being the guy who speaks Spanish when other people don’t speak Spanish, hearing the stories, seeing the pain. I think you feel it.

Art: But I don’t think I felt any pain when I was … I think it was just I don’t think it was like that. I just don’t.

Art: I’m just here to enforce a law. I’m not here to add my little bit to it. Don’t break the law.

Ana: But the law changes all the time.

Art: And when the law changes, I will adhere to the law. If the law tomorrow said that all Hondurans can come and live, and there’s nothing you could do for them, then guess what? They could come in, and I won’t even touch them. Because that’s the law.

Art: Obviously, if somebody tells me the law is, “You have to grab this baby, and throw him in an oven, and turn it to 550 degrees,” I’m not going to do a monstrosity. So, I don’t think it’s going to get to that point. I don’t believe that. I follow the law, but I’m not going to go out there and commit something that would damage my own moral teachings.

Ana: I think that line comes when an officer is pointing a gun through an international border and shooting an unarmed 16 year old who may or may not be throwing rocks from 40 feet down below. That’s where that line is very clear for me.

Archival: A jury in Tucson, Arizona is deliberating manslaughter charges against a border patrol agent named Lonnie Swartz.

Archival: When agent Lonnie Swartz fired 16 rounds through a border fence into Mexico, 10 of those bullets were found in the back and the head of José Antonio Elena Rodríguez who was 16 years old. The agent’s defense team..

Archival: Ana Adlerstein reports.

Ana: The graveyard where Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez is buried is on a slope above the Mexican city of Nogales, looking out towards the international border fence. [foreign language 00:12:04] …

Ana: That’s where that line is very clear for me.

Art: And that’s fine. And that could be the line that you’ve decided to draw. I believe that when you’re standing in US soil, and there’s individuals throwing rocks at you, and they’re trying to hurt you, obviously they’re not just trying to get your attention, they’re trying to hurt you so they can bring drugs across, I think that at that point it’s them crossing the line and not you.

Art: Where are you parked?

Ana: I’m parked in …

Art: Come on, I’ll give you a ride.

Ana: I’m all turned around. It’s just across the street.

Art: Come on. Don’t be silly. That’s just a box. You can step on it.

Ana: Okay. Here’s your gun catalog.

Art: Oh. And that box on the bottom on your feet is just a box of ammunition.

Ana: Great.

Art: Look, I even got good tunes.

Ana: Thank you, Art.

Art: Thank you so much. Don’t get too close to the border. It’s dangerous.

Ana: I won’t.

Art: And you’re a nice girl. You’re just confused.

Ana: I feel the same about you. Take care.

Art: But I love you.

Ana: Okay, buddy.

Art: Bye.

Ana: Bye.

Ana: That is fucking weird, man. I don’t know what to make of that. God damn, I hope Lonnie Swartz loses that trial.

Ana: Okay. Okay. One, two, three. So Paul, what just happened?

Paul: So, we’ve got an announcement that the verdict is in. We’re heading to the court right now, and we’ll see what they say.

Official: [inaudible 00:14:08] you’re going to be interviewing, right?

Ana: What?

Official: You’re going to be interviewing?

Ana: Interviewing?

Official: Yeah.

Ana: Yeah.

Official: Okay. Just do me a favor, make it outside.

Ana: Outside of this just-

Official: Outside the bollards.

Ana: Outside the bollards. Yeah, for sure.

Ana: What?

Art: How are you?

Ana: Good. How you doing?

Art: Good. Nice seeing you again.

Ana: Nice to see you, too. Do you mind telling me, I have to outside the Bullards, tell me-

Art: Oh yeah. No, no problem. Whatever you need.

Ana: Thank you so much. So, what happened in there, Art?

Art: Not guilty.

Ana: Of what?

Art: Well, on the involuntary manslaughter of course. [crosstalk 00:14:36] [foreign language 00:14:39] involuntary manslaughter.

Ana: Do you mind saying that in English as well?

Art: No problem. I believe that justice was definitely served, and the reality is my eyes the justice system worked today.

Ana: Will the fact that there has been two trials now influence any way that the border patrol operates in terms of holding border patrol agents accountable for excessive use of force?

Art: We’ve always held our agents accountable when they did something wrong. And in a case like this, we’ve always backed up our agents when we believe that they did the right thing. The union is here to support the agents when we truly believe there’s some kind of injustice. And yes, we financed it because that’s our job. We finance those kinds of things.

Protestor: And how much did you pay to your experts?

Art: I don’t know yet. I –

Protestor: one of those experts make $10,000 a day?

Art: Are you media? Are you media?

Protestor: I’m not media.

Art: Oh, okay. Thank you.

Protestor: Yeah, of course.

Reporter: Any idea if Mr. Swartz has any plans to return to the border patrol?

Art: We don’t know that. It’s something we’re going to have to definitely discuss in the upcoming weeks. So, hopefully everything can go back to normal, as much as it can. Thank you.

Reporter: [inaudible 00:15:37] you would like to add?

Art: No, that’s it. Thank you.

Reporter: Can you just give your name one more time?

Art: My name is Art del Cueto, and I’m the vice president of the National Border Patrol Council.

Reporter: Thank you.

Art: Thank you.

Ana: Thanks Art.

Art: All right, take care. Give me a call.

Ana: I will. Thank you.

Art: How long are you in town?

Ana: I’ll be back and forth depending on this case. But I’m just in [inaudible 00:15:51]. [crosstalk 00:15:52] So, I would love to talk more, and come to that meeting, and …

Art: Yeah, no. I’ll give you a tour.

Ana: I would love a tour.

Art: Whenever you want.

Ana: Amazing.

Art: You’re like my favorite left wing reporter now.

Ana: That’s such an honor, Art. Thank you so much. Take care.

Protestor: Shame on you for how you’re … As a union leader, it’s shame on that union! Shame on the border patrol union! Shame on it! As a union woman, I say shame on you! The amount of money that you spent in a charade of injustice here, shame on you as a union leader! You don’t deserve to call yourself a union leader!

Archival: A border patrol officer was charged with fatally shooting a Mexican teenager over the US border, and he has now been found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter. We’re joined now by Ana Adlerstein. She’s been covering this trial. Ana, thanks for being here.

Ana: Thanks so much for having me.

Archival: You’ve been in the courtroom I understand for much of these proceedings. What kind of reaction was there after the verdict was read?

Ana: First off, just shock and sadness. Especially on the part of the family, they actually really thought they had a chance at getting a guilty verdict. Of over 100 killings associated with border patrol in the past 15 years, this one is just the second to make it to criminal court. There have not been any convictions for killing when a border patrol officer is on duty. Border patrol is the biggest police force in the country, and they operate in remote terrain where often no one sees what happens.

Archival: Right. Ana Adlerstein has been covering this trail from the beginning. Ana, thank you …

Ana: All right. So, this is the headquarters. This is the spot.

Art: This is my messy office. I can get over there. I just got to check some of my mail.

Ana: Yeah.

Art: Thank you for everything you do. That warms my heart. People are so nice. I believe that people are nice. Don’t you? I believe all people are good. You don’t believe all people are good? Make sure there’s no white powder. Okay. I think because they see me sometimes on Fox, or because they see me speak to the president … “Thanks for appearing on my podcast.” Congressman Biggs. They think that I have, excuse me. Oh, was there powder in that one? That I have more influence. They believe I have more influence than I already have. Ted Budd. Congressman Budd. You know what I mean?

Art: Hey bro, I’m in the middle of an interview. Can I call you back? It’s about yesterdays pew-pew. All right, bye.

Ana: What is this interview about? Should I be aware of?

Art: What interview?

Ana: Did you say that this is about yesterday’s pew-pew?

Art: No.

Ana: Oh.

Art: I said, “I’ll call you later on to talk to you about yesterday’s issues.” Issues, yesterday’s issues.

Ana: I heard pew-pew.

Art: Is that what you heard?

Ana: That’s what I heard.

Art: Never mind that.

Ana: So yeah, there have been some things that you have put on the record that have been rumors, and I think they’ve been harmful. One of them being that people were streaming across the border in 2016 to vote against Trump.

Art: That’s not necessarily what I said.

Art: We’re trying to get the people that are in the waiting list, hurry up and get them their immigration status corrected. Make them citizens.

Trump: Why? Why does…?

Art: So, they can go ahead and vote before the election. And for us to…

Trump: It’s a big statement, fellows.

Art: To do that…

Trump: I’m sure you’re not going to write it. To me, that’s [crosstalk 00:19:42].

Art: That’s huge.

Trump: You’re letting people pour into the country so they can go and vote.

Art: We want to hurry up and fast track them so they can go ahead and be able to vote for these elections.

Trump: And these are the professionals. These are the people …

Ana: You don’t believe that you started a rumor that …

Art: I don’t. I don’t think that my words are so impactful that everyone’s going to grasp onto them now all of a sudden. Say, “Oh, that whole issue of they’re coming to vote was started by me.” No. But no, I said it obviously. I’m not going to say I didn’t. But it was something that I was seeing. There you go.

Ana: How about the rumor you started about ISIS being a hotbed on the border?

Art: I don’t recall saying ISIS was a hotbed on the border.

Reporter: But do you expect, for instance, that ISIS, or any terrorist group for that matter, is already working on passing the border?

Art: You have to. With the intel that we’ve received and the training we’d receive, you have to be expecting it.

Reporter: Apart from intelligence that you can’t share with me, is there any kind of hard evidence?

Art: The intel that we have is hard evidence.

Reporter: You just can’t share it?

Art: Yes, correct. It’s very hard evidence. It’s pictures. It’s debriefings of individuals. It’s hard evidence.

Reporter: But just to be clear, that’s stuff that you can’t share with the public?

Art: I cannot share that with the public, no.

Ana: Do you think ISIS is coming through our Southern border?

Art: I don’t know. But I think the potential that is that anyone can attempt to enter through our Southern border and do us harm.

Ana: Do you regret any of the rumors you started?

Art: I don’t think I’ve said any rumors. To be honest. I regret that I say them in a certain way sometimes, and they’re taken in a different content.

Ana: How about Trump’s statements? Is there anything Trump said about the border and about Mexicans that’s rubbed you the wrong way, or are you with him 100%?

Art: I don’t think he said anything that would rub me the wrong way. I think the big quote is the majority of these Mexicans that cross the border illegally are criminals, and I don’t think that’s a false statement. I think the majority of them that cross illegally are criminals. And I don’t even think he used the word Mexican. I’d have to look back and see the actual quote. Because I know it’s been moved around and watered so much.

Trump: When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists. And some I assume are good people. But I speak to border guards, and they tell us what we’re getting.

Art: I recall at the time that he made it, I didn’t think his statement was really out there. I think it was a reality. The majority of these individuals that are crossing are criminals. And I think he even said, “Some of them I suppose are okay,” but he said, “The majority of them are not.” And my experience of the individuals that I’ve arrested, the majority do have criminal records. So no, I don’t have a problem with that.

Ana: When I’ve sat in Operation Streamline, the 75 and two hours folks will just get time served because they don’t have prior criminal convictions.

Art: Are there ones I’ve been around here in Tucson? I don’t know where you were at, [crosstalk 00:22:55] but the ones I’ve been here in Tucson. And like I said, it’s been awhile since I was a full shift there at a processing center. The majority of them had criminal backgrounds. I’m telling you.

Ana: Well, I think we see reality a little differently there. And …

Art: No, I don’t think we do. I don’t think we’re as far off as you keep alluding in the interview. I don’t think we are. I don’t. And don’t let it-

Ana: You want me to prove it to you?

Art: No, but don’t let it scare you to be similar to me in ways. Because I’m not scared to be similar to you in ways. It doesn’t bother me.

Art: I was doing the interview after the Lonnie Swartz case, right?

Ana: With …

Art: With local media.

Ana: Just the one you were standing outside the courthouse?

Art: Yeah.

Ana: Yeah.

Art: And I have these people yelling, “Oh, you’re a murderer.” And it’s like you don’t even want to listen. I’ll sit there and listen.

Ana: Yeah, you were funding a murderer.

Art: I’m funding a case. I’m funding something that I think everyone has the right to be defended in America. We have an agent that was involved in a shooting, and we provide legal coverage for that individual. I have to cover it. Ana, that’s my job.

Trump: With us tonight are members of the National Border Patrol Council, and they are great friends of ours. I want to just thank them. The official union of our nation’s incredible border patrol agents. And you know what? They’re not supposed to do it, but they did it anyway. They endorsed me.

Trump: You’ve always had my back, and I will always have yours. I want to thank Brandon Judd who’s here. And Art del Cueto. Art …

Trump: And Art del Cueto. Art del Cueto. We’re getting better with that name, right?

Trump: Look at these guys. Look, they’re ready. They’re ready to fight.

Art: [Spanish language 00:25:23]. Thank you guys. Thank you. Four more years.

Art: You know how I learned English?

Ana: No.

Art: I never even told you that? Obviously from school, right? But a lot of my English that I learned was from watching The Big Valley, The Lone Ranger, and The Cisco Kid.

Ana: What does that mean?

Art: I think I still believe in, or I guess you’re influenced by what you grew up seeing. The good guys wear the white hat. Lonnie Swartz case, the guy with the badge killed an individual that was assisting drug cartels. And people see it as, “Oh no, it’s the big border patrol agent with the badge, and the red hair, and he’s white.”

Ana: Allegedly. Can we just agree on allegedly?

Art: I can’t on that one.

Ana: You can or can’t?

Art: No. He was assisting dealing with drug trade, and he got killed.

Ana: And I see him as an unarmed 16 year old walking down the street, coming home from [crosstalk 00:26:45] hanging out with his brother. Yeah.

Art: I get that. And you got killed. But here you have a case going on of a border patrol agent that’s white from Detroit that got killed by drug smugglers and border bandits, and no one’s even bothering to go to that case. It’s not a big deal. Who gives a shit? The border patrol agent got killed. And those things bother me. He’s the good guy. The good guy got killed and no one cares.

Art: Let’s forget the Lonnie Swartz case then for a second. Put that aside. One of our good guys got killed. By somebody that’s obviously a bad person, and nobody cares to go and do a story on it? It kind of sucks.

Ana: I’m not ready to call a border patrol agent a good guy.

Art: But I’m a border patrol agent, and I’m not a bad guy.

Ana: I don’t…

Art: You think I’m a good guy?

Ana: I don’t think there are good guys and bad guys.

Art: But you said you weren’t ready to call a border patrol agent a good guy.

Ana: I don’t think there are good guys and bad guys.

Art: Do you think I’m a good guy?

Ana: No.

Art: You don’t think I’m a good guy, Ana? Yes you do. You’re just trying to sit there because you’re trying to justify what you just said. Let’s not justify what you just said. Don’t even put it on record. I don’t care if you don’t put it on record, but you know you want to say I’m a good guy. Because you don’t think I am. I’m not.

Ana: I think that I enjoy talking to you. I have a lot to learn from you. I’m fascinated to spend more time with you. I believe individuals are good. I believe in the humanity of people.

Art: So, you are prepared to say a border patrol agent is good?

Ana: As an individual, as an individual.

Art: Well, we are. We’re individuals. You can’t define people just specifically for what they do for a living.

Ana: It gets more complicated though when what you do for a living is criminalizing, is-

Art: Turn that off for a second.

Ana: Turn it off?

Art: Yes.

Ana: I have to turn it off, Art?

Art: Yes.

Art: How are you?

Ana: Oh man, good. Crazy. It’s been wild. The whole world’s wild.

Art: Are you recording already?

Ana: I’m always recording, Art. What do you think I’m doing here?

Art: You’re horrible.

Ana: It’s my job.

Art: Your hair’s longer.

Ana: It’s been a long time. Your hair’s not longer.

Art: That’s funny.

Ana: You still don’t have hair.

Ana: So, are you ready for my news?

Art: Yeah. [inaudible 00:29:40].

Ana: So, I got arrested.

Art: Okay.

Ana: I got arrested. I was accompanying an asylum seeker to the port of entry. They walked up first, and then I was behind them.

Art: You got arrested for harboring, for assisting, for what?

Ana: The CBP officer came running out and called me an illegal alien smuggler.

Art: But where were you?

Ana: I was on the Mexico side.

Art: On the Mexican side. And I don’t want to get into, I don’t want you to tell me how it is. Because I don’t know [inaudible 00:30:10] the whole thing is. But obviously, you’re doing your job as a reporter, and you want to observe how this happens. Because these individuals told you, “Hey, I’ve come through here before, and they pushed me away.” “Okay. Well, you know what? I’m a reporter. I want to document that they’re actually doing that, and not allowing you to come and do the asylum.” Correct?

Ana: Well, I’ve also been volunteering at the shelter.

Art: Okay. It is what it is.

Ana: Yeah.

Art: I volunteer in a lot of places, too. And I think it’s a good thing. Yeah. I don’t even know what to say. I don’t know. I wasn’t there. I don’t know. But that’s just shocking to me.

Ana: Isn’t that shocking?

Art: It is. It is.

Ana: It makes me really afraid.

Art: You’re not afraid. What are you afraid of?

Ana: I’m afraid for our country.

Art: Okay, that’s different. Okay, that’s what I feel. Okay. I understand that.

Ana: Yeah.

Art: Yeah. I understand what you’re saying.

Ana: Yeah. Because even when, let’s just talk about asylum for a quick second, right? Even when an individual presents at a port of entry with a lawyer, with a legal observer who’s represented by another lawyer, and then I get arrested for illegal alien smuggling? Like if that’s not how you want someone to present, what is the way you want someone to present?

Art: I understand what you’re saying. I fully understand what you’re saying.

Ana: Yeah. What do you think?

Art: What do I think about what? [crosstalk 00:31:28] I don’t know. I wasn’t there. I’d be Monday morning quarterbacking it, you know what I mean? And I don’t like to Monday morning quarterback it. Just from what you’re telling me, I think the situation was handled wrong. On their part.

Ana: Yeah. But-

Art: I’m sorry that you had to go through that. There’s bad apples everywhere. You know that. And let’s just look at the illegals that are entering the country, and I’ll ask you the question. Do you think they’re all bad?

Ana: First off, I don’t consider anyone illegal.

Art: Well, the migrants that are entering the country, do you consider them all bad?

Ana: No. Yeah, none.

Art: But there’s obviously some that are. There’s some that have bad intentions. There’s some that are bad.

Ana: I thought we agreed earlier that there are no bad people, there are just-

Art: No. You know what we’re talking about. And I think the same goes for the agency. I think not all of them are bad. But certainly there’s some bad ones. I don’t condone the behavior of the bad ones. I never have, Ana. I don’t have-

Ana: Lonnie Swartz?

Art: I think Lonnie Swartz was tried in a courtroom, and in the end two different juries found him innocent.

Ana: Lonnie Swartz is a … Hold on. Lonnie Swartz is a border patrol agent who you know it never got brought into court, but we probably both know that he has a history of domestic violence.

Art: I don’t know about that.

Ana: He’s been dishonorably discharged from the military.

Art: I don’t know about all this.

Ana: He’s a bright red buffoon.

Art: I don’t know how his ending. Oh, it’s not ending. See, I’m horrible with words. I don’t know what his final status was when he left the military.

Ana: Fine. Let’s leave it out.

Art: I mean, I don’t.

Ana: Let’s pretend he was a totally upstanding…

Art: Well, I don’t know anything about him as in his past or whatever. All I know is what was presented in the courtroom, and the union funded his attorneys. And in the end, the jury said he was innocent. That’s what it comes down to.

Ana: But we’re talking about condoning good or bad actions.

Art: Right, right. No, I…

Ana: Do you condone Lonnie Swartz shooting Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez through the fence, and killing a 16 year old unarmed boy?

Art: Ana, that’s an unfair question because I can’t really get into that when I think that whatever he was feeling at the time, and he felt his life was in danger and other people’s lives were in danger, he used his training, and part of his training was to do that. He then got charged for two different charges in the death of Elena Rodriguez, and he was found innocent. What do you want me to say? That’s all I can say about it.

Ana: I know that’s all you can say from a union official stance. What we’re talking about as people feeling like actions are good or bad.

Art: The problem is that I’m getting interviewed, and I think anything I say will be taken as me in my position, and that’s what it comes down to.

Ana: That’s fair.

Art: So, it doesn’t matter what I say, or how I feel, or anything. In the end, it will be taken as, “The union vice president said this.” I’m not afforded that opportunity to be able to talk about certain things at times because people don’t look at me as just a human being.

Art: And that’s why I think it’s great that we’ve had the opportunity to talk because regardless of the interview and the questions, you’ve gotten to see me as a human being.

Art: I think everyone is under the impression that you have to be far right or far left, or else you can’t really be anyone in this country anymore. And I don’t know if you’re a far left. I don’t know if I’m far left or far right, or what I am. Right? But I do know that you have a different political view than I do. And every time that we’ve talked, whether it be through telephone and just shooting the shit I guess you would say, or through your interview, or the times that we’ve sat down and broken bread, I’ve had a very pleasurable time. And I hope you have, too. Regardless of our views. And I think we need that more in the world right about now.

Art: I’m done.

Ana: Thanks, Art.

Art: You’re awesome. You really are.

Ana: I really appreciate your time, and I know that-

Art: I’ve never done this for anyone else.

Ana: What do you mean?

Art: I’ve never taken this much time to give interviews.

Ana: Yeah. But you also call me to shoot the shit, as you said.

Art: I do, because you’re cool. I want to find out how you’re doing. I didn’t know you got arrested.

Ana: It’s upsetting.

Art: What the f?

Ana: I know. I’m like what is Art going to say? Is he going to be pissed? He better fucking be pissed. I got arrested!

Art: I mean, I just can’t believe you got arrested. But you know what I mean? Because from what you’re telling me, you didn’t do anything.

Ana: I didn’t do anything.

Art: [inaudible 00:36:13].

Ana: What?

Art: That’s kind of shitty.

Ana: Me getting arrested?

Art: Yeah, for nothing! Did you get the guys’ names?

Ana: Who? The officers?

Art: Yeah.

Ana: Yeah, do you want them?

Art: No, I don’t want them.

Ana: Yeah.

Art: No. Turn that off. We’re off the record. Turn it off.

Ana: Oh, come on.

Art: Turn it off!

Ana: Art!

Art: I’m telling you, you got to turn it off.

Ana: Okay. I’m turning it off. It’s off.

Agent: Hey, put the phone down. You cannot record.

Ana: No, you can. The ACLU…

Agent: I don’t care about the ACLU. Right now you are on government property. It is just like going into …



Featuring Art Del Cueto, Ana Adlerstein, Taide Elena, and Areceli Rodríguez

Nick van der Kolk, Host and Director
Ana Adlerstein, Producer
Julia DeWitt, Producer
Phil Dmochowski, Managing Producer
Steven Jackson, Contributing Editor
Jazmin Aguilera, Voiceover
Rosario Murbach, Voiceover
Jasmin Mara López, Voiceover

Special thanks to Paul Ingram and Felipe De La Hoz.

Published on: October 22, 2020

From: Episodes, Season 9

Producers: , , ,