Rough and Ready for a Dangerous Job

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“See the cameras?  These are monitored at the Nogales station, but they can’t give us a view all the way down into every wash. So when that wall comes down in a torrent, it’s like a gateway.  But we’ve seen people smash vans straight through the wall and cut it open with a torch. We can’t control what’s on the other side of that fence. Anyone who thinks a physical wall is a good idea hasn’t talked to a Border Patrol Agent.

“I believe what will work, “ he continued, “is a virtual wall. Have you heard of Project 28?”


“It’s a test for the virtual wall, near Arivaca. It’s basically 28 ground radars with cameras. They are sort of like the camera towers here, except with ground radar. Each radar has a 10-mile radius ability, and anytime it senses ground movement an agent can check the camera and zoom in. If the motion is from cattle, big horn sheep, or a group of people, we’ll know in a second.  What’s going to help is technology, not walls.”

Border Patrol Figures:
Total land border: 6,900
miles (5000 Canada;
1,900 Mexico)
Total shoreline: 95,000 miles
Ports of Entry: 326
Agents: 12,300

The Nitty Gritty

So what does an Agent do when he apprehends people? He or she will begin with three questions:

1. Are you seeking asylum in the U.S., or do you fear your country?

2. Will you go back voluntarily?

3. Do you want to see a judge?

They have to establish why a person is entering the U.S. without authorization. Some people are fleeing their country for their lives – economic meltdowns, corrupt governments, or exploitation/persecution: likely the same reasons why our ancestors came to this continent in centuries past.  John Muir once wrote, “The United States Government has always been proud of the welcome it has extended to good men of every nation, seeking freedom and homes and bread.”  The U.S. offers protection for those in such need.

However, if someone crossing illegally admits no such need, he/she is then asked if they are willing to go back to their country voluntarily. This is a little different from being deported, but they still get fingerprinted and a photo taken for the database. If they are caught again, though . . .

Yet, sometimes a person claims that they have a legal right to be in the U.S.  Perhaps he had been issued a Green Card, but it’s not with him.  He can request to see a judge to plead his case.

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