The union that represents Border Patrol agents in Southern Arizona and around the country called Monday for U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to resign.
The National Border Patrol Council cited Holder's alleged dishonesty about Operation Fast and Furious in making the call. That ATF-led operation put guns from Arizona in the hands of Mexican organized-crime groups, and two of those guns were found at the scene west of Rio Rico where Agent Brian Terry was shot to death in December 2010.
The decision to ask Holder to step down came after more than a year of frustration about the Justice Department's handling of the controversial operation, said Shawn Moran, a vice president of the union who is based in the San Diego area. The department's failure to hand over emails that apparently pertain to Operation Fast and Furious to a House committee investigating the operation precipitated the call.
"This is something that all of our guys are concerned about because they know it could be any one of them," Moran said.
"We take the risks that are out there naturally just being in law enforcement working across from Mexico in the condition it's in right now," he said. "But what you can't accept is when your own government is allowing weapons into the hands of the people you're confronting."
The Border Patrol is no longer part of the Justice Department but rather the Department of Homeland Security, headed by former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano.
In making the call, the union, which represents about 3,700 agents in Southern Arizona and 17,000 nationwide, joined more than 100 Republicans in the U.S. House. The Daily Caller, a conservative news outlet that has been polling members of Congress on Holder, reported Friday that 129 House members and five members of the Senate have asked Holder to resign. All are Republicans.
The announcement also comes two days before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is scheduled to vote on whether to hold Holder in contempt of Congress for what they say is his refusal to respond adequately to subpoenas. However, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the chairman of the committee, has said he'll put off the contempt vote if the Justice Department hands over sufficient documents beforehand.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Border Patrol union's call or the status of discussions with the Oversight Committee.