How long will it take before you realize that Border Patrol agents (who wear green shirts and patrol the areas of the border between the official ports of entry) and CBP’s Office of Field Operations officers (who wear blue shirts and staff the booths at the official ports of entry) are NOT the same thing? They have been separate units of the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection agency since March, 2003. That’s more than 12 years to get it right.

Yet, on Friday night, July 31, you published a story that gets them mixed up. Here is how it starts:

Border Patrol poster boy’s arrest, new report bare agency’s corruption issue
By Joseph J. Kolb
Published July 31, 2015

EL PASO, Texas – A veteran Border Patrol agent once spotlighted as an agency poster boy in an NPR report was to appear in court Friday on charges of smuggling illegal immigrants, just weeks after a damning report on corruption within the Customs and Border Protection agency.

Supervisory Customs and Border Protection Agent Lawrence Madrid, 53, was arrested July 24, at his El Paso home by agents of Homeland Security Investigations and charged with alien smuggling. Madrid, 53, who was scheduled to go before a Magistrate Court judge Friday, is one of 177 agents who have faced corruption charges since 2005, according to CBP spokesman Roger Maier.

“SCBPO Madrid was the ninth CBP employee arrested, indicted, or otherwise prosecuted this fiscal year on corruption related charges,” Maier said. …

Any story about a law enforcement officer accused of illegal activity (especially when the charge is alien smuggling) will almost always merit news coverage. But sloppy reporting and inadequate fact-checking/editing, like the one you published, puts a cloud of doubt over the entire story. What else did you miss? What else did you get wrong? What facts did you leave out of the story that would have provided greater context?

That is what happens when you say that an OFO officer (which Mr. Madrid was) is a Border Patrol agent (which Mr. Madrid was not). You not only got the agency wrong, you compounded the error by calling him a “poster boy” for the Border Patrol. It just isn’t true, and with a bit of due diligence, you could have learned that.

In getting the facts wrong, you (inadvertently, perhaps) poured your poisonous ink over a group of dedicated men and women who work under less than ideal conditions to protect the U.S. border. That is not just unfair to the Border Patrol agents in El Paso; it is an injustice to every person across the United States wearing a green-shirted uniform.

It is unfortunate that the people who created the Department of Homeland Security put the Border Patrol inside the Customs and Border Protection agency. OK, you are not the first to mix up the names. But that is no excuse.

Your story needs to be corrected and, if you have any decency, you will issue an apology to the Border Patrol in the process. Let’s hope that you and others do not repeat this mistake again. Twelve years ought to be long enough to know the difference.