Border Patrol Capstone Project

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¶ … United States Border Patrol

Border Patrol

Border Patrol has a "proud history of over 75 years of service" according to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) government Website. The history of the Border Patrol goes back a bit farther than 75 years though, because there were "Mounted Guards" that patrolled the border as early as 1904 They only operated out of El Paso, Texas, and there were never more than 75 Mounted Guards working at any one time. But in 1914 Congress authorized money to pay for "Mounted Inspectors" who rode horseback in most situations (although some had cars and even boats). The Mounted Inspectors were on the lookout for "Chinese immigrants" that were "trying to avoid the Chinese exclusion laws," according to the www.CBP.gov.

By 1924 the U.S. Government began to realize how important it was to attempt to secure the border with Mexico and Canada so the U.S. Border Patrol was established; its first duty was to expand the security to the seacoast, and a total of 450 officers were hired at that time. The pay was $1,680 a year, but the officers were given hay and oats for their horses, plus a badge and a weapon. The officers were obliged to provide their own horses and saddles, though.

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By 1935 Border Patrol officers got off their horses and drove "motorized vehicles with radios"; by 1940 there were a total of 1,531 officers (www.dbp.gov). The officers at this time were along the Canadian border and the Mexican border, but by 1952 officers were being moved back to the Mexican border from the Canadian border as some 52,000 illegal immigrants had been "airlifted" back to Mexico and it was obvious that the Mexican border was the hot spot for illegal immigrants. Meantime there are enormous problems related to immigrants trying to cross the border illegally, and after the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001, the Border Patrol has been placed under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The Literature on Border Patrol Activities and Challenges

Capstone Project on Border Patrol Assignment

Today the U.S. Border Patrol has 20,200 employees and 19,000 lineal miles to patrol. According to the "Illegal Alien Apprehensions by Fiscal Year" (October 1, 2009, through September 30, 2010) there were a grand total of 556,041 illegal immigrants arrested in the past year. That data includes individual reports from 20 sectors (Canada and Mexico). The most illegal immigrants were seized at the Tucson Sector (241,673) in Arizona and the least number of arrests happened at the Houlton Sector (the U.S. Canadian border in Maine); just 59 arrests were made at the Houlton Sector (www.cbp.gov).

Being a border patrol agent is a dangerous job, as reported in an article by Angie Marek in the U.S. News & World Report (Marek, 2007, p. 1). For example, Marek reports that agent Michael Norton -- who uses a bicycle to patrol the Arizona border with Mexico -- was attacked and nearly drowned while on duty. Smugglers who bring illegal immigrants across the border for money attacked Norton and took him to a canal where "…they repeatedly forced him underwater," Marek writes. Norton told Marek that it was bad but he has seen it when it was ever worse. In 2005, Norton explained, while putting a padlock on his van with arrestees inside, "so many people were crossing here, it was like the Macy's Day parade every single night" (Marek, p. 1).

And another agent was "brutally struck in the face by a convicted murderer" that had been deported back to Mexico recently but came back across the U.S. border anyway. The author mentions that it is "a strange philosophy" of the Border Patrol that when there is violence attempted or committed against agents that shows a "sign of success" (p. 46). Why? Because when Border Patrol agents begin to get good control over illegal crossings, criminals "fight back harder," and hence, there will be more violence as criminals attempt to bring drugs into the U.S. Or smugglers bring illegal immigrants who have paid the smugglers for a passage into the U.S.

The pressure at various points along the U.S. -- Mexican border can change depending on where the Border Patrol places emphasis. For example, when the government built a wall between the San Diego area and Mexico in 1994, and put floodlights in to light up both sides of the border, "…foot traffic sand" but it "shifted like a bubble elsewhere… [and] apprehensions in Arizona spiked, jumping 51% in 1994" (Marek, p. 47). When the government builds walls to secure the border, critics claim it is "a major militarization of the border" and will only push illegal immigrants to be more daring and engage in more dangerous strategies, Marek explains. The illegal immigrants who want to enter the U.S. will pay more to smugglers when there are crackdowns, Marek continues.

But the Homeland Security people explain that building walls and stepping up security helps them "gain operational control," Marek goes on. Being able to detect many entrances into the U.S. gives the Border Patrol agents a "good shot" at arresting people. Where are the detainees held after being arrested? Marek says some are held in a detention center in Raymondville, Texas, a prison of 10 Kevlar pods that can hold up to 2,000 people; the rooms are air conditioned but there are no windows in this prison. Another prison is less hospitable according to Marek's article. The Del Rio Sector (where 17,082 illegal immigrants were arrested in the past fiscal year) has its own detention strategy, and those crossing the border "are treated more like criminals than violators of civil immigration law," Marek explains (p. 48).

Border Patrol agent Hilario Leal told Marek, "Around here we lock you up for about two weeks, even if you're a Mexican first-timer. The detention policy has been worked out with "local judges and the U.S. Marshals Service" in the Del Rio Sector, and this could set an example for other regions as to ways to detain illegal immigrants (p. 48).

U.S. Senator Jon Kyle of Arizona has criticized President Obama, saying that Obama's budget proposal for FY 2011 would "reduce both the number of Border Patrol agents available to secure the border" and it would reduce "the number of detention spaces" that hold illegal immigrants (http://kyl.senate.gov). The Obama proposal would cut the Customs and Border Protection budget by 2%, according to Kyle, which would have a negative effect on fencing for the border, technology and infrastructure.

However, in Obama's budget -- the same budget that Kyle claims stops funding the fence -- there is $4.6 billion "to support 20,000 Border Patrol agents and complete the first segment of Customers and Border Protection's (CBP) virtual border fence" (Office of Management and Budget / Department of Homeland Security / the Federal Budget Fiscal Year 2011). Moreover, in Obama's budget there is $94 million for 300 new CBP Officers for screening passengers and cargo at ports of entry; and there is $1.6 billion for programs to "expeditiously identify and remove from the United States illegal aliens who commit crimes" (OMB/Homeland Security).

One of the problems the U.S. has had in gaining control over the border, and deciding on a proper strategy and policy, is that Republicans and Democrats collide and clash politically on just about every proposal the comes up. Immigration is a political football, as they say, and the Border Patrol is kind of caught in the middle of the debate.

Conclusion

The president gave a speech on July 1, 2010, to the American University School of International Service, and offered these remarks about the border problem. "…Our borders have been porous for decades… the result is an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States" (Obama, 2010). "In sum, the system is broken. And everybody knows it.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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