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.

SubscribeGet emails when new questions are answered. Ask Me Anything!Show Bio +

Share:

Ask me anything!

Submit Your Question

382 Questions

Share:

Last Answer on November 08, 2016

Best Rated

What was the most clever or inventive way you've seen illegals attempt to cross the border? How about the dumbest?

Asked by Elle C. over 7 years ago

Most clever that I personally encountered was a Mexican man who made his gown Ghillie suit (a camouflage suit that military snipers make out of netting/branches/grass etc.).  He had made it about seven miles into the country but surrended when a USBP horse patrol unit came so close they were about to step on him.

The dumbest was likely one of the many counterfeit vans which they tried to sneak across the border.  Mexicans occasionally try to recreate USBP vehicles.  They never do a very good job and you can pick them out almost immediately.

This particular van was painted up as a USBP van, had a cage inside etc.  However, about 1/4 mile into the U.S. the driver decided to bail out and run back south.  Because they'd taken so much time to replicate a USBP van, the inside of the van had a locked cage.  Units following the van saw the drive flee - and he left 30 other Mexicans locked up in the van.  Easiest apprehension those agents ever made.

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 7 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 7 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. 

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 7 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.

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

Asked by penang.rui over 7 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.

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 7 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.

Even if a Wall is infeasible, wouldn't cameras and motion sensors the entire length of the Mexican border be much easier and at least raise the rate of interceptions?

Asked by Bucknell over 7 years ago

We have a lot of the border under surveillance, but it's never enough.  Also the desert is an extremely diverse environment.  Dense brush, cliffs, outcroppings, washes (dry creekbeds), etc. make it very difficult to observe all of it.

Places with open expanses do rely on large networks of cameras.  All along the border we also have sensors or various types (magnetic, seismic etc.) to detect groups and vehicles.  However these don't always work, and are often set off by cattle or locals, or even BP Agents etc.

I worked for a bit over a year and a half in radar trucks which are fantastic.  However these are expensive, and we never had enough of them.  They were placed in high traffic areas.  They were extremely effective - moreso than any other tactic we used.

Also, it's very common for BP Agents to detect, sight, or even chase a group and not catch it.  So our detection numbers may be high, but actual apprehension numbers much lower.  It would not be uncommon to have more groups on my radar screen than I had assets to pursue.  You'd simply prioritize and catch as many as you could.

So, the theory is sound - but in practice is extremely difficult to monitor the entire border as it stands now.  Also, groups/cartel guys learn where the cameras are, and simply avoid them.  You do see more tunnels in areas which feature heavy camera presence.