SARITA, Texas—Hundreds of Border Patrol agents, sheriffs, and law enforcement officials joined the family of slain Border Patrol agent Javier Vega Jr. on March 20 to dedicate a checkpoint in Vega’s honor.
Vega’s K-9 partner, Goldie, was also present.
“That day, he did what his heart told him to do—the very same thing he was trained to do. The very same thing he loved to do,” said Vega’s mother, Marie, in an emotional speech. “The very same thing he took that oath for—the oath to defend and protect.”
Vega was shot and killed on Aug. 3, 2014, while out fishing with his wife, children, and parents near Santa Monica, Texas.
As two illegal aliens approached the family and attempted to rob them, Vega attempted to draw his weapon, but was shot in the chest. His father was also shot and wounded.
Both assailants fled the scene and were arrested a short time later.
In 2016, Vega’s murder was re-determined to have been in the line of duty.
Rio Grande Valley Sector Border Patrol Chief Rodolfo Karisch thanked Border Patrol officials and Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
“Their efforts in reclassifying agent’s Vega’s murder as a line-of-duty death, and in moving legislation forward to rename the checkpoint in [his] honor, are greatly appreciated,” Karisch said. “The dedication of this checkpoint today will preserve his legacy for generations of agents who will continue to serve this great nation.”
Cornyn sent a letter to the Customs and Border Protection Commissioner in 2015 to request Vega’s death be reclassified as line-of-duty, allowing his family to receive the benefits of such a classification. A year later, he sent another letter, along with Reps. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and John Carter (R-Texas), and was that time successful.
In 2017, a bill introduced by Cornyn and co-sponsored by Cruz to rename the Sarita checkpoint in Vega’s honor passed the Senate.
“Everyone in law enforcement knows you never truly go off-duty. Once you’ve taken the oath, it doesn’t end at your front doorstep. Harvey truly represented the best of Texas,” Cornyn said, using Vega’s nickname.
Cruz said Vega spent his life defending others, first as a Marine and then as a Border Patrol agent.
“He tragically gave his life doing what he had spent his entire life doing, which is defending others, defending his family, from two criminal illegal aliens who had been deported previously,” Cruz said. “We’re today with a moment of sadness, but also with deep, deep gratitude.”
Vega’s widow, Paola Andrea Brown, said Vega’s fellow Border Patrol agents have been by the family’s side since day one.
“We’re grateful for each and every one of you,” she said. “My boys lost their father, I lost my best friend. Everyone tells me that I’ve done such a great job in raising these boys, but little do they know, these boys have raised me.”
“I know your father is so proud of all three of you.”
The Javier Vega Jr. Border Patrol checkpoint is situated on U.S. 77 in southeast Texas, between Brownsville and San Antonio.