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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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.
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".
I have no experience on the Northern border so I can't really answer this question. I also don't understand what you mean by "for CBP to hassle...". If by hassle you mean they inspect you etc. when you come across - that's simply normal. I can't speak for what your definition of hassle is. As a LEO, I have seen plenty of people who get outrageously upset when we're simply doing our job.
Speaking from a Southern border perspective, sure everyone who enters the U.S. legally through a POE is recorded in some fashion.
For the record USCIS no longer exists. The new layout is now DHS (Department of Homeland Security), subset CBP (Customs and Border Protection), and then USBP (United States Border Patrol). DHS also controls I.C.E., etc. The old USCIS under the Department of Justice is no more.
I am sorry I can't give you a better answer - I don't know what "hassles" you're going through or why. From a general perspective 9/11 and the huge illegal immigrant problem will undoubtedly put more restrictions, hassles, and policies through which will make it much more aggravating/difficult for people who are doing it right and legally. This is similar to many other things in law enforcement. The bad apples (criminals) ruin it for normal people on a daily basis.
Very often, but this depended very much on the season - needless to say, summer months were the worst. I could not give you a percentage, but my station would find perhaps 50+ bodies a year. Add another 100+ in serious physical distress.
Many of the causes of death could not be determined by a simple glance. In AZ a body will be taken down to bones in less than 72 hours. When encountering a dead body we would refer it to the local Indian Police who would call their detectives etc. We were not trained in that stuff, so we'd simply secure the scene.
With all the crime in the desert it was anybody's guess how these people died. Many of the ones reported to us by other illegals would be located, and had died of dehydration (or some other form of sickness). We also did a lot of life-flights out of the desert when someone was in a bad way.
When a person gets dehydrated that badly, even if you life-flight them out and they make it to a hospital they will likely die. We were responsible for hospital watches, where we'd be stationed in a room with a person in custody. A dehydrated person would make a recovery within a day or two - but often their kidneys and other organs had already gone bad, and they would then pass a day or two later.
Some illegals were shot by bandits or cartel guys, or other illegals. Again, when you come across a pile of pink bones in the desert, it's hard to judge.
For these reasons, we are all very competent at search and rescue. We had a large number of EMT's and other first responders amongst the normal agents. When something very serious popped up we could call on BORSTAR (Border Special Tactics and Rescue) who are a specially trained unit of paramedics and rescue specialists.
With the size of the desert, we'd do everything we could to find people who were left, or in distress - but you can only spend so many man-hours on someone.
Many more illegals died at the hands of their smugglers (commonly called "coyotes"). These were often the result of horrific vehicle accidents. The smugglers would crash a truck carrying 30-40 people standing up in the bed. You can do the math I'm sure. These were the really serious incidents, where you'd have a dozen illegals killed and a dozen or more sent to hospital for serious surgeries, some paralyzed etc.
I, myself, only came across a handful of dead bodies in my time with the Patrol. I did respond to a couple of crime scenes, a homicide etc. I partook in search and rescue efforts a handful of times, and did find a number of stranded people. All in all, a dangerous place. I only ever really felt sorry for the kids. Some groups would leave behind 8-12 year old kids who couldn't keep up with the group. That angered me. No one should put a kid through that, or leave them behind to die.
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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.
Let me preface this answer by saying that I've never smoked marijuana. I had plenty of opportunities to in college, but I don't smoke and never felt the need to try it.
I do believe that it should be legalized though. It's a simple, non-deadly drug which is less harmful or dangerous than alcohol. Marijuana possession has stocked our prison system with millions of people who don't need to be there (though, due to being in prison - they often become criminals in the long run).
My opinion: legalize it, regulate it's production (so that it's safer) and tax the crap out of it.
I understand this would require a lot of new laws, and procedures. I do think you should get a DUI if you're caught out driving while high - because it does reduce your reaction time and motor skills enough to be a hazard. This is the hardest part about legalizing it.
The reality of legalization is that it likely won't happen. The U.S. government has invested so much time/money/effort in villainizing the drug that I doubt they could abruptly change their stance. That would require swallowing an awful lot of pride.
In addition to this, legalization of marijuana should not be pursued as an avenue to "shut down" the cartels. This won't happen. The cartel organizations are far too large to be destroyed by such a simple tactic. They would simply fight each other for the now-legal production of marijuana, and devote their manpower and expertise to other criminal enterprises or more of the serious drugs (cocaine, meth, etc.).
Also, if we legalized marijuana, and taxed it heavily - cartel provided marijuana might still be sought after because it would potentially be much cheaper.
I'm essentially all for legalizing it, but I don't imagine it will happen anytime soon on a federal level, and I do not see it as a cure-all for the cartel problems.
I have not personally, but it was not uncommon to come across the remnants of drug violence. The cartels did battle each other frequently North of the border. We'd occasionally happen across a shot up vehicle, or blood trails, occasionally a dead body or two. The really brutal stuff was mainly down South (chopped up bodies etc.)
I'd suspect Phoenix and Tucson PD had more encountered with drug deal scenes - our area was more trafficking and very little to no dealing.
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