Impressions of the border

Monday morning found me in a hot, dusty El Paso in a very air-conditioned border patrol vehicle with two extremely competent and knowledgeable agents.

They took me on a line tour of the border, along the way sharing the intricacies of their job, the history of the border, and facts and figures to illuminate what I was seeing.

Being fairly far north, the sector I explored is not one experiencing the great influx of unaccompanied minors that is causing chaos elsewhere, but my guides told me that groups of young illegals are being shipped to the El Paso sector and to others for processing from areas that are overwhelmed.

The trip confirmed a number of notions I had about the border, stirred more outrage, and inspired in me a renewed sense of respect for the agents who work hard to keep our borders safe and secure.

Did you know:

Taxpayer money goes toward rescuing illegal aliens stranded in remote areas

Border Patrol Search, Trauma, and Rescue (BORSTAR) is a special operations group designed to respond “to a growing number of injuries to Border Patrol agents and migrant deaths along our nation’s borders.” BORSTAR is equipped with a fleet of helicopters to rescue stranded immigrants. Rescue towers are also located throughout the desert so that illegals and smugglers can call for help in case of emergency. It’s the Christian thing to do, but if the risk of dying in the desert were higher, would the rate of illegal immigration be lower?

The fence does more than you think

“Desperate men do desperate things.” Are people who have trekked hundreds of miles through a blazing desert really going to stop and turn around when they see a fence at the American border? The short answer is no, the fence isn’t meant to stop people, but it does slow them down considerably and alerts responders to their presence.

Prior to 2006, when the high-tech, billion dollar, 18-foot fence was constructed (thank you, George W. Bush), our border “security,” where there was any at all, looked like this:

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Today, it is built up and beefed-up:

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The height and strength of the fence both contribute to its deterring power, as do seismic sensors within the fence and on the ground surrounding which detect motion and minor fluctuations in pressure. Every disturbance is investigated. In 2009, responders apprehended 723,825 immigrants with the help of sensors, cameras, and mobile and remote surveillance systems

Illegals have as many rights as you do

The agents I traveled with told me of the arrogance of smugglers who “know the system” and immediately demand the rights and amenities that come with being arrested. They reminded me of the astonishing instances in which illegal aliens, trespassing on not only private land, but also on the United States, filed lawsuits against landowners and won.

Flabbergasted, I asked the agents, “Well then what’s the point of being a citizen?”
“To pay taxes!” was their answer.

BP agents are frustrated too

“Our hands are tied,” they told me. “Our scope of authority is limited.”

Our agents work long, hard days. But there’s only so  much they can do. Once the immigrants are apprehended, they’re out of the hands of the border patrol. They’re sent to be dealt with by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or another government agency, and the agents don’t know what happens to them.

“It’s frustrating,” they admitted, being American citizens themselves, to see lawbreakers awarded privileges that most law-abiding U.S. citizens don’t get. Illegals are housed, fed three meals a day, and transported, all while funding for border patrol operations is being cut.

What can be done?

American jail isn’t enough of a threat for these people, especially compared to Mexico. “The money [here] is just too good for them,” the agents told me.

My agents say that if we want to change our country, we have to change our immigration laws and express our dissatisfaction with Congress. And cutting off aid is a start.

Teresa Mull is managing editor of Human Events.