The National Border Patrol Council made history in late March when it endorsed Donald Trump, marking the first time in the history of the border agents' union that the organization had endorsed a presidential candidate.
But while support for the Republican businessman runs strong within border patrol ranks, not everyone is on board with the endorsement, according to several reports that queried some of the rank-and-file agents who comprise the 16,500-strong member union.
In a strongly-worded endorsement, the union praised Trump for his candor, which it said was a departure from the usual "Washington-approved tone."
"We need a person in the White House who doesn't fear the media, who doesn't embrace political correctness, who doesn't need the money, who is familiar with success, who won't bow to foreign dictators, who is pro-military and values law enforcement, and who is angry for America and NOT subservient to the interests of other nations," the statement reads, according to CNN. "Donald Trump is such a man."
The National Border Patrol Council endorsed Trump because he was the only presidential candidate who consistently focused on border security, said Shawn Moran, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council.
"This endorsement was based on one facet and one facet alone," Moran told KNSD, an NBC affiliate in San Diego. "It was about increased border security and that's why we endorsed Donald Trump for president."
But the union's decision could cause problems for agents working in the field, said Don McDermott, a former border patrol supervisor who worked in a San Diego-based anti-smuggling unit. McDermott said the endorsement was the prerogative of union leaders, and doesn't reflect the views of every agent.
“It is probable that the endorsement of Mr. Trump would expose both the union and the individual members to accusations of xenophobia and even racism,” McDermott told the Los Angeles Times. “The reputation of the agency and of every agent is called into question.”
A group of border agents in El Paso, who unsuccessfully lobbied their local union to disavow the Trump endorsement, compared border patrol work to community policing in American cities, where success depends on familiarity -- and a working relationship -- between authority figures and the people they're sworn to protect.
"This trust is undermined by the [union] endorsement of a candidate for president who demeans and degrades immigrants," the group wrote in a statement, per the Times, "and who has lied about the threats that exist at the U.S.-Mexico border to advance his bid for president.”
That's a concern echoed by Pedro Rios, the director of the American Friends Service Committee.
"If they are endorsing someone with that hateful rhetoric, then suddenly, we question whether the agents themselves believe this hateful rhetoric," Rios told KNSD. "I think it places a lot of questions and a lot of needless tension in the community."