Border Patrol Agent

Border Patrol Agent


Charleston, SC

Male, 31

Spent a bit over four years (2006-2010) serving as a Border Patrol Agent in Tucson Sector, AZ: the busiest sector in the country. Worked numerous positions, and spent the last year and a half operating/instructing ground radar installations. Duties included: field patrols, transport, processing, control room duties, transportation check, checkpoint operations, static watch duties, etc.

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385 Questions


Last Answer on November 08, 2016

Best Rated

Did you ever find yourself dehumanizing the Mexicans you caught along the border? Like did you got so desensitized to your job that you began to see them as pests? Or did you always view them with the same dignity you'd view anyone else?

Asked by JBaskin about 11 years ago

You never end up dehumanizing people.  That being said, business is business, work is work, and the law is the law.  Our job isn't to hug and nurture people, it's to apprehend them and secure the border as best as possible.

In that regard you become like most seasoned EMT's and're doing your job.  The emotional baggage is best left behind.  Anyone in a line of service (EMT's, firefighters, paramedics, cops etc.) definitely gets very accustomed to "crap".  You run into enough tragedies, evil, wickedness, violence, abuse etc. that you become quite accustomed to it.  You just accept it and move along with your job.

The people we apprehended were dealt with quickly, efficiently and professionally.  We don't coddle people, but we don't beat them or treat them like animals etc.

What percentage of illegals attempting to cross the border would you estimate are successfully intercepted by Border Patrol? Is that figure improving or worsening compared to past years?

Asked by Quezon about 11 years ago

I'd say that of the groups that we detected or spotted we apprehended around 30-35%.  That figure improved quite a bit following 9/11, as DHS/CBP had a large hiring push and went from around 8,000 agents to around 16,000.

Since then it seems to have been pretty steady.  As apprehensions increase the Mexicans and cartel guys become a bit more creative.  It's a constant back and forth.  There is no genuine progress being made toward "shutting down the border" or "stopping illegal immigration" etc.  Unfortunately that is not a political goal of either party.

Is there tension between you and local cops or other federal agencies about whose jurisdiction something is? Is it ever like on TV where some captain shows up and bellows "Alright this is MY investigation now, get all of these mall cops outta here!"

Asked by Toranna. about 11 years ago

There was a lot of tension between the local indian tribal police and ourselves.  The Tohono O'Odham indian police were often very shady (and caught doing rather suspicious things).  The entire reservation was corrupt/dirty so these police often had family members who were into illegal stuff as well.

You'd occasionally catch the police driving at night in the desert, lights out - well beyond their patrol areas.  They'd invent some story about what they were doing etc.  Likewise they would attempt to pull over BP vehicles when we were tailing suspicious vehicles etc.  It was always an interesting time with them.

The only issues we had with local deputies or police was simply due to manpower.  They'd get mad at us when we didn't have enough agents to respond to their immigration issues, and we'd get mad when they wouldn't come pick up warrants because we were too far away from them etc.  It was never harsh, just frustrating from both ends.

Sheriff Joe (Maricopa County Sheriff) was always a cool cat.  I actually liked that he openly berated DHS etc. for not doing our job better.  He would bring news cameras etc. with him when he turned over tons of illegal immigrants to the local I.C.E. office who didn't want to process them etc.  He really gets stuff done, and doesn't take nonsense from anyone.

There is so much criminal traffic out in AZ that all LEO's pretty much gel together when the proverbial feces hit the wind oscillator.  You'd always stop to back up local PD, DPS guys, or Sheriff's Deputies etc.  They would likewise stop and check on you.

I was involved in a 120-mile pursuit one time which involved: BP Agents from two stations, indian police, sheriff's deputies, sheriff's drug task force, DPS, and two local police departments.  It got downright confusing, but we got the vehicle.  In short, we never had the silly TV show drama.

Oh, and did you see someone tried to blow up Sheriff Joe last week?? I'd imagine he has a lot of enemies by now!

Asked by brig4 about 11 years ago

We could do with a lot more Sheriff Joes in this world.  He is a dying breed.  For someone that people complain about a lot, he's been in office now for what 15-20 years and keeps getting re-elected?  He's doing his job (a difficult one at that).  The modern world seems to hate people with real work ethic or real opinions/values.

I applaud the guy.  He has way too many enemies...that, if anyting, proves he's doing a hell of a job.

You said that Al Qaeda is looking to leverage the cartels' intel and such -- are the cartels thought to be friendly to such requests? Do they care at all as long as they get paid? Or would that guarantee to bring a ton of heat on them from the US?

Asked by baconops about 11 years ago

I wish I could give you a concise and accurate answer.  There are numerous terrorist organizations who have been located in Mexico, dealing or working with the cartels.  Simply put the cartels are the masters of infiltrating the U.S., using their expertise.

A week after 9/11 a dozen Chechens were caught coming across the Southern border.  Hezbollah militants have been spotted in Mexico.  I do believe the cartels know full well this could bring a lot of heat if something horrible can be traced back to them.  However, unfortunately, we had a saying in the Patrol "we only catch the dumb ones".  It's very simple to catch trucks driving through the desert carrying dope, or catching large groups of illegals walking blatantly across the border.

But small, secret tunnels, small nearly-undetectable ultralight aircraft, etc. are much harder to locate.  I suspect any genuine terrorist activity is kept well below our radar.  Imagine the funds available to Al Qaeda, Hezbollah etc.  I'm sure they can make it financially worthwhile to the cartels to assist them.

I think it deserves some serious attention - and we have intelligence agencies pursuing this exact possibility.  I wish I knew more about it to answer more appropriately.

Was it depressing that the border was such a revolving door? Did you feel like you were making a difference when a new crop of illegals would show up every day?

Asked by Isaac about 11 years ago

Yep, very depressing and stressful.  Living in AZ it's more than obvious we're not making much of a difference.  From Phoenix to the border the state has been flooded with illegal immigrants.  You'd see hundreds daily just on the drive in to work.  So, short answer - no I did not feel like we were making much of a difference.

It was also very obvious from the agency perspective that there was no genuine desire to effect real change.  The USBP is about 50% just a dog and pony show.  But we all knew that.  We busted our butts, worked hard - but at the end of the day we knew the government etc. was not genuinely serious about "closing the border".

What happens when you catch someone who has no ID whatsoever? On what basis can you prove he's not an American and is in the country illegally?

Asked by Broseph over 11 years ago

It's quite easy actually.  During the interview/processing, it is very easy to establish whether someone is a citizen or not.  This is also why we process everyone we catch.  Once you're caught crossing the border (which, by the way, is illegal for U.S. citizens as well - you're required to cross at a designated Port of Entry, through customs etc.) you're processed into the immigration database.

O.T.M's frequently would travel with no documents, trying to masquerade as Mexicans (because it was easier to pretend to be a Mexican, and be returned to the opposed to being flown back to their native country).  A simple interview would reveal their false claims very simply.  This is part of your training, basic interrogration techniques.

There was never a case during my time in the Patrol where we had an issue revealing someone's true origin/identity.  Proper names etc. were another story.  I'd say perhaps 50-70% of illegals had a number of aliases/false names/identities, stolen or forged social security numbers etc.  In this instance, a person's identity in the U.S. legal system is that name/identity under which they originally were processed.