During a speech on May 15 at a memorial for fallen police officers, President Donald Trump spoke at length about a deceased border patrol agent, Rogelio Martinez, whose mysterious death was hyped repeatedly on Fox News in an attempt to cast undocumented immigrants as violent. The network omitted key facts of the case to argue that Martinez was killed in “an apparent ambush” by immigrants at the border, but investigators and FBI officials say his death was likely an accident and that there’s no evidence of a homicide.
At the memorial, Trump described Martinez’s death as “horrific” and “violent” and underscored that Martinez “bravely confronted the cartels, the smugglers, the human traffickers, the gangs that threaten our communities.” His language was reminiscent of that of Fox News hosts, who had described Martinez’s death as “gruesome” and a “vicious attack” and “apparent ambush.”
But Fox’s reporting was incomplete and misleading. It was based almost entirely on claims from the union that represents U.S. Border Patrol agents, and the network almost entirely ignored evidence from medical investigators and the FBI that showed Martinez’s death was likely the result of a lethal fall.
Today, Trump appeared to repeat Fox’s flawed reporting and used Martinez’s death to advance his extremist immigration policies:
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Also here with us today is the family of border patrol agent Rogelio Martinez from El Paso, Texas. Agent Martinez, known as Roger to his friends and family, worked on a dangerous part of the southern border, a part that you've been reading about so much lately, and a part that we're doing a lot with. Agent Martinez took immense pride and joy in serving his country as a border patrol agent. He was extremely proud of what he did. Every day he would go to work and risk his life to keep America safe. Roger said he wanted to prevent terrorists and drugs from coming into our country. We all do. And we're going to get it done. But that's exactly what he did.
He bravely confronted the cartels, the smugglers, the human traffickers, the gangs that threaten our communities. One night last November, Agent Martinez died in the line of duty. It was horrific, it was violent, and he was brave. To Agent Martinez's mom, Eliva, his son, Sergio, and the entire Martinez family, Roger's profound and unselfish love of country is an inspiration to every American.