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The Complicated Culture Of U.S. Border Patrol

The Complicated Culture of U.S. Border Patrol

“For decades, the Border Patrol was a largely invisible security force. Along the southwestern border, its work was dusty and lonely. Between adrenaline-fueled chases, the shells of sunflower seeds piled up outside the windows of their idling pickup trucks. Agents called their slow-motion specialty “laying in” — hiding in the desert and brush for hours, to wait and watch, and watch and wait.

“Two years ago, when President Trump entered the White House with a pledge to close the door on illegal immigration, all that changed. The nearly 20,000 agents of the Border Patrol became the leading edge of one of the most aggressive immigration crackdowns ever imposed in the United States.” From the New York Times, September 15

The U.S. Border Patrol employs about 60,000 people to patrol and support activities at the nation’s boders with Mexico and Canada, along the Florida coast and Puerto Rico. They are a visible presence at U.S, international airports and run an intelligence group inside the U.S., analyzing data. Some critics and advisors to the Border Patrol believe that their intelligence work extends to low-profile deployments outside the U.S. and surveillance of American citizens and others inside the U.S.

Within 100 miles of the border, Border Patrol runs roadblock check-points to check on potential smuggling and illegal entry, generally with a quick look in people’s cars and commerical trucking traffic, and a fast exchange of a few words – an accent often triggering much deeper scrutiny.

Border Patrol has become a key anti-drug trafficing agency and is generally lauded for that work. However, several documented killings at the border by Border Patrol agents – including an agent shooting and killing a teen in Nogales, Mexico, through the bollards of the border fence – have created deep skepticism about the agency’s work and culture.

This article from the New York Times offers a deep look: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/15/us/border-patrol-culture.html

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