Monday, September 8, 2008

Visiting Our Southern Borders

by Ron Spangler
After visiting our Southern Borders and speaking with agents fresh out of the academy and agents with ten or more years service, I have a new perspective of our Border Patrol. Like most of the agents that have served for ten or more years the new agents feel they are serving their country the same as if they were serving in the military or any other law enforcement organization. They are exactly right.

Being older I can still remember how Americans looked down on our Border Patrol as nothing more than under payed security guys with the sole missions of harassing migrant workers and confiscating fruits and vegetables from law abiding citizens traveling between Arizona and California. Unfortunately some Americans today still view our agents not as Federal Law Enforcement agents fully trained in Federal Law but see them more as a security force with no law enforcement responsibility. A large portion of Americans are misinformed about the primary mission of the Border Patrol. Since the attacks on 9/11 the Border Patrol has become our primary defense from terrorists entering our country along our borders. Along with this new mission has come the responsibility of understanding and enforcing our laws and procedures in both Federal and Civil apprehensions of wanted suspects trying to enter or exit the United States. Not one agent that I spoke to harbored an ill will or hatred for any illegal that was trying to enter the US for a purely economical reason. On the other hand they are extremely dedicated to stopping the flow of drugs, illegal weapons, human smuggling and any terrorist trying to cross our borders.

While it may sound funny, I have had people ask me if agents are allowed to carry guns. When I explained that Border Patrol Agents have much of the same responsibilities and authority as the FBI, ATF, DEA, or the Federal Marshals Service people seemed shocked. Maybe with the increased numbers of young men and women joining the Border Patrol, people will have a better understanding of what they do every day and every night year end and year out. Having a better understanding for some of the things agents see and do may have an impact on how they are treated when they are accused of some horrendous act like shooting a drug smuggler or accidentally hitting illegals hiding in the brush in the middle of the desert.

We hear a lot about cases like;
Father Of Girl Killed by Border Patrol Truck Sues but we hear very little about anything else.

In the case of the little girl getting killed, the lawyers and media want to leave out the fact that the father was hiding his little girl in the bushes. The agent was pursuing a group of people suspected of being smugglers or possible terrorists. The trucks they drive off road in the desert must set high off the ground and sometimes impairs the vision of the agent, especially when people are hiding trying to avoid detection. While our hearts go out for the loss of life of such a young innocent child, I would ask who is really in the wrong. Is it the parent that placed the child in the dangerous situation or the agent that was trying to do his duty. I would remind people that all of these agents are Americans with families too.

While I was on the border here are some stories you didn't see in the national media:

Tucson Sector Border Patrol Agents Deliver Baby

Border Patrol agents assigned to the Naco Station found 20 illegal aliens in a remote area of the Coronado National Forest. Before the group could be transported to the Naco Station, one of the women stated that she was pregnant and that her water had broken. Before Emergency Medical Service personnel could arrive, the woman gave birth. Border Patrol agents at the scene assisted with delivering the child and provided medical assistance. EMS arrived and transported the woman and child. Border Patrol agents are all certified as First Responders prior to graduating from the Border Patrol Academy. Through July 31, Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents have rescued 382 individuals.

Furniture Stuffed with Drugs in Arizona
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers foiled a sophisticated smuggling attempt at the Naco port of entry yesterday when they discovered 1,595 packages of marijuana hidden inside wooden entertainment centers coming from Mexico. Estimated street value of the seized drugs is more than $2.7 million. The driver of the vehicle was arrested and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for further investigation.

Border Patrol Agents Find Deceased Man in Desert

Border Patrol agents were tracking a group of four individuals who had made an illegal entry into the United States by walking across the border through the open desert. With assistance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine pilots, Border Patrol agents arrested an illegal alien who was spotted running in the desert in the general vicinity.

After Border Patrol agents apprehended the individual he told agents of a second person who was suffering from heat related illness and guided agents back to the victim’s location. Agents were able to locate the second man, who was unresponsive. The Border Patrol Search Trauma and Rescue team was quickly activated but was unable to resuscitate the individual.

While on scene with the victim the remaining two aliens from the original group surrendered to agents trying to revive the victim. It was determined that the surviving three individuals were illegal aliens and were subsequently detained. All were given water then transported to the El Centro Border Patrol Station for processing.

During processing, it was learned that the suspected smuggler guide was among the three individuals that were rescued and is now being held at the Imperial County jail.

Border Patrol Arrests Armed Human Smugglers

Tucson Station agents arrested a U.S. citizen and four illegal aliens, three of whom were concealed in the trunk of the vehicle. In this incident, as the driver exited the vehicle, a loaded 9mm pistol was discovered under the seat.

All individuals were taken into custody and transported to the Tucson Station for further processing. The U.S. citizen driver was arrested for alien smuggling and endangerment.

Border Patrol agents from the Douglas Station, stopped two female U.S. citizens on Highway 191 approximately 38 miles north of the border. While questioning the driver agents noticed a handgun lying by the side of the driver and movement under a pile of blankets in the rear seat area. Agents then discovered two illegal aliens hiding on the floor board under the pile blankets.

The two U.S. citizen females and the two illegal aliens were placed under arrest. Agents then searched the vehicle and people under custody, discovering drug paraphernalia and a small bottle containing marijuana.

One of the U.S. citizens will be held pending prosecution for alien smuggling with endangerment.

Border Patrol Agents Assist Injured Dune Enthusiast

Border Patrol agents rendered assistance to a sand dune enthusiast who suffered an accident in the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreational Area on Sunday.

About 12:15 p.m., Border Patrol agents were flagged down by a friend of the victim near the Buttercup Valley in the Imperial Sand Dunes. The agents arrived on scene and found that a female United States citizen was on the ground and having difficulty breathing after an apparent ATV accident. Upon further evaluation by a Border Patrol Search Trauma and Rescue team agent, it was determined that she had possible neck and spinal injuries.

A “Life Flight” medical helicopter was requested and she was flown to the Palm Desert Hospital in California for more advanced medical care.

There are a lot more stories that need to be told, these are only a few. They should be a reminder to the American public that agents are not guarding our borders to harass poor Mexican immigrants but are there to Protect and Serve America.

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