Care Tactics

U.S. Border Patrol shoots down an agent's request to be near his ailing mother

Now, the National Border Patrol Council is getting more aggressive. Gary Gilbert, the local union president, and other members of the Yuma branch of the council have peppered local and national Border Patrol officials with letters and phone calls asking that Michas be allowed to stay in Casa Grande.

For patrol union members, it's an issue of humanity and respect for employees. And with the federal government wanting to beef up the patrol at a time when it's tougher to find new recruits, patrol officials should be finding more ways to be good to good employees, they say.

"It's not costing the government anything to have him over there," Gilbert says. "The only thing they're taking away is his ability to care for his mother. The patrol is punishing Nikos and his mother because she has survived longer than she was supposed to."

Since the Michases and the union have had little luck with the sector's interim chief, Steve Norman, they are now trying to appeal to the man who will soon become the new sector chief, Michael Nicley.

"The incoming chief seems to be a compassionate man," Gilbert says. "The problem is: He isn't in charge yet."

"We're just praying he'll listen," Nikos Michas says.

Casillas says it is unclear when Nicley will take over the Yuma sector. Union officials predict Nicley will be in place in June or July.

"There's no doubt this is a difficult situation," Casillas says. "This decision was rendered by the current administration. We don't know what the new administration might do."

Michas recently has been apartment shopping in Yuma, and plans to move south by the end of the month.

"They're not responding to any of our pleas, so I've got to go," he says. "As bad as it is, it's my duty. But I have no idea what effect this will have on her."

"He always is doing what must be done," Alyce Michas says. "He has such a strong sense of duty. He'll go. It's just awful that he has to go."

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