By Elizabeth Troutman |
A bill increasing the penalty for convicted smugglers passed the U.S. House of Representatives with bipartisan support on Tuesday.
The Agent Raul Gonzalez Officer Safety Act is named in honor of a Border Patrol agent from the Rio Grande Valley who died in a Dec. 2022 ATV crash while tracking a group of illegal border crossers near Mission.
“This sends a signal to bad actors in #AZ06 and across our border communities that we’ll pursue actions that threaten American lives to the fullest extent of our law,” said Representative Juan Ciscomani, the Republican who sponsored the bill.
The legislation makes failure to yield a felony, and smugglers could face a life sentence if an officer is killed during the apprehension.
Agent Raul Humberto Gonzalez, Jr. was traveling at high speed on Dec. 7 when he crashed. Gonzalez died in the hospital from injuries sustained in the crash.
Gonzalez previously served with the United States Department of Homeland Security – Customs and Border Protection – United States Border Patrol for more than ten years. He was assigned to the Rio Grande Valley Sector McAllen Station.
Mayra Flores, R-Ariz., tweeted a tribute to the 38-year-old father of two.
“My condolences to the family & friends of Border Patrol Agent Raul Gonzalez,” she said. “He was tragically killed in an ATV accident while protecting our borders. Many knew him as a great father & as a go getter at work. We are forever grateful for his service and sacrifice.”
Elizabeth Troutman is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send her news tips using this link.