Family: 'Empty Rhetoric' over Border Agent's Death

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Brian Terry was a member of an elite border patrol unit in Arizona.

He died Dec. 14 in a firefight that broke out when his unit confronted bandits who prey on illegal immigrants and drug smugglers pouring across the U.S.-Mexico border near Tucson, Ariz.

Terry's family contends if the U.S. government were doing all it could to control the border, he wouldn't have been killed.

On Wednesday, Terry was honored at his funeral in his native Michigan. Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano took part in the service.

"I'm proud to be carrying a personal note to you from the president of the United States to your family. He, like I, honors Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry," she said to his family during the service.

The night before, Napolitano telephoned the family, but ended up squabbling with Terry's father, Kent.

"I said you got to wake your man up in the White House," Kent said of their conversation. "And she said he's done more in the last two years than any other president."

The family said with chaos and violence so rampant in the border area, Napolitano's comforting words are nothing but empty rhetoric.

"They had no meaning to them," Terry's stepmother, Carolyn, said. "She was pacifying us."

"She has Christmas in a couple of days. She'll forget about it tomorrow," Terry's brother Kent Junior added.

When a local reporter relayed the family's feelings to Napolitano at the funeral home, she responded angrily.

"I really don't think it appropriate for the media to try to pick this as a fight. This is a moment to remember a fallen agent," she said.

The death of Agent Terry was the latest incident of deadly violence rampant along the border. However, Napolitano defends the government's efforts to get the violence under control.

"There are more agents, more technology at the border than ever before, and more is on the way," she said after the funeral.

But for the family of Brian Terry, they say those efforts are too little, too late.

Originally aired December 23, 2010.

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at