Border Patrol Agent

Border Patrol Agent

Oscar

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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Last Answer on November 08, 2016

Best Rated

I know it was your job, but did you ever feel sorry for the illegal immigrants you caught, when they were just trying to find a better life?

Asked by StephTX over 6 years ago

No. I only ever felt bad for the kids and children (especially those who died in the desert) because they didn't have a choice in the matter. Considering that 70% of the USBP was hispanic, "we" didn't have much sympathy for those coming across. Every illegal immigrant is a slap in the face to the 10's of thousands of people who bust their butts to enter the country legally through the correct channels. The USBP is pro-immigration...just legal immigration. We all agree there should be reforms to the current process, but taking the easy way out and breaking the law won't garner any sympathy from me.

What statute gives Border Patrol the authority to detain suspected illegal immigrants found near the border? IOW, even if you spot a group of obvious illegals in the desert, why don't they have the right to simply walk around you and refuse to talk?

Asked by 5678 over 6 years ago

While this question is purely political/agenda driven in nature, I'll provide a short response.  There are numerous pieces of legislation which provide USBP and Customs officers various forms of authority within a certain radius of an international border (and by extension international airports which are technically also P.O.E's.).  As the distance increases from the border we have different levels of authority.  You can google and wikipedia the relevant laws and pieces of legislation which provide for this authority.  A similar number of restrictions apply to USBP checkpoints.

USBP Agents are also often assigned additional Customs authority depending on their job location. 

PS: If you happen to live near a USBP station they actually have all of this information available in handout pamphlets etc.  We always had boxes of them at our vehicle checkpoint. 

How easy is it to forge a US passport? Even if you could get the look and feel right, isn't it basically impossible to embed the scannable barcode part? And wouldn't you have to hack the passport database to add a record so that it swiped properly?

Asked by smithy over 6 years ago

Forging a U.S. Passport would be very difficult.  Now, everything can be done at a certain price, so high-level criminals could likely swing a pretty convincing copy.  However, with the advent of barcodes/scanning techniques this has now become incredibly difficult.  Anyone can reproduce some watermarks, type, and photos...but to pass a scanning machine is extremely difficult.

I wish I had more opportunity to work a P.O.E. with Customs guys as this was something I had little experience in.  More common were fake Mexican ID cards - carried by people from other countries, trying to pass as Mexicans.  These were almost always cheap copies and easily detected/exposed.

Those ultralight aircraft are pretty crazy! Are we that far away from cartels using unmanned drones?

Asked by penang.rui over 6 years ago

Remember ultralights are little flimsy aircraft run by lawn-mower motors etc.  I don't know how soon we'll be seeing unmanned drones from the cartels.  Now, cheap little camera-helicopters you can fly from your iPhone?  Maybe.  Maybe even some of the smaller, cheaper propeller driven ones eventually (the kind you can deploy as a single person, and control with a little control box from a backpack).  But genuine, long-distance, heavy duty drones with sophisticated cameras/weapons?  I wouldn't worry about that anytime soon.

Were you impressed with the caliber of people you worked with? Should the American public have confidence that US Border Patrol is competent and fair?

Asked by dan79 over 6 years ago

I was pretty impressed with the caliber of people in the Border Patrol.  The academy, while not extremely tough was tough enough to weed out the idiots.  There was a huge range of people in the Patrol.  A large portion of ex-military folks (ranging from simple 4-year in/outs up to PJ's, some older SF types, USMC Corpsmen etc.).

A smaller number of prior law enforcement types, and then the rest were normal people like myself with no particularly advantageous background (college grads and non-college grads).

The overwhelming amount of political correctness and red tape means that in most cases the Border Patrol is a bit "too fair".  Sometimes you need to cut the nonsense and get the job done, something that the agency itself hinders very often.  It's a very politcal job as you can imagine.  You'd be amazed how often we were subtly told to do our job...less well.

Like any job, and profession you do have a small number of idiots.  There seems to be a flawed public perception that all law enforcement agents/officers should be angellic beings of good who dole out divine justice etc.  Nope.  Agents were normal people too.  With overy 16,000 agents you definitely would have some bad apples.

There was a website active when I was serving called "Trust Betrayed" or something to that effect.  It was a website run by the agency highlighting agents and customs folks who had become criminals or had been caught breaking the law etc.  It happens.  Not often, but it's simple reality.  So, on the off chance that you run into that one dirtbag, your experience may be different than most.

As a whole, yes, the agency is competent and fair.

Is the opposition to building a giant wall the length of the border mostly economical ("we can't afford it"), pragmatic ("it wouldn't work") or political ("a wall is an antagonistic symbol of exclusion")?

Asked by Bucknell over 6 years ago

It's about 95% politics.  No party nor politician wants to be responsible for losing the Latin-American vote or ruffling the feathers of Mexico's government.  It would actually save us a lot of money in the long-run, given how much we spend on border security.

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 over 6 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 nurses...you'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.