Are you one of those people that aren't sure about all of the violence and strife going on in Mexico, or even at the US/Mexico border? Maybe you're doubtful? Or maybe it just seems that all of what is going on is so far away from you and your life, that you're not concerned with it.
Well, I've got it straight from the mouth of a border agent. The only people that know what is truly going on and what the threat is are those that deal with these situations on a frequent basis. And unfortunately, those people fall into the categories of regular people who live in fear along la frontera, in Mexico, or those whose job it is to prevent smuggling.
The agent is a friend of mine, and due for privacy reasons, I'm not going to use his name. Lets call him V. For 6 years, he's worked as a Patrol Agent in the Tucson Sector/Nogales AOR.
1)What's a typical day like for you?
V: Everyday is something new, but typically it's chasing bad guys and their drugs. Nogales is #1 in drug apprehensions in the United States.
2)With the increasing problems on the other side of the border due to the cartels and their violence, how has that affected your job and the amount of traffic coming in and out of a port of entry?
V: The amount of violence on the south side is a big factor in our day to day operations. The drug trafficking is becoming more aggressive, meaning they are willing to go the tougher drug routes (actually go up into the high mountains). The drug smugglers are fighting with the alien smugglers for the routes to enter the United States, and other drug smugglers are ripping each other off. There are gun battles going on in the desert and the normal illegal aliens are becoming victimized more than ever.
3) What is it that you enjoy about your job that keeps you going into work?
V: I enjoy a lot of things, I enjoy the outdoors, if you like to hike, you do a lot of that on the job. Hot pursuits are fun! Saving little kids lost in the desert is always a emotional thing. A lot of illegal aliens are thankful that we catch them because usually the smuggler will tell them it's just a few hours to Phoenix walk type deal and leave them lost in the desert.
4) Illegal immigration is such an issue here in AZ, what are your feelings about deporting illegals back to Mexico when you know they may have a better chance to making money here as opposed to there? Have an illegals ever pleaded with you?
V: My thought is that if they are willing to spend so much money getting smuggled here why cant the hire a good lawyer on the south side to help them get some type of visa. Illegals have pleaded in the past but I tell them if the records come back clean they'll have another chance later to try again.
5) In your opinion, have the new additions to the border wall and the updated technology been making a difference in slowing down the flow of illegals?
V: Yeah they put up a big fence in Nogales, it has slowed traffic down and the technology makes it easier for us to spot them. But they still come.
6) Anything you'd like to add? Misconceptions about your job, stories, advice when traveling into MX...etc...
V:Misconceptions about us is that all we do is sit in our vehicles all day long, which is not true. There are four posts in Nogales where you actually have to do that. We call them x's and all they do is sit and watch the line near downtown as a deterrent.
Another one is that we beat the illegals up for fun. Again not true, If an illegal alien has been touched, it is because he chose to put his hands on us first. They are more willing to fight us more than they ever have been before.
My advice in to going into Mexico is this: Don't go. The Attorney General has even issued the warning to United States citizens concerning going into Mexico; this was done in hopes that Mexico will get the message about them cleaning up their own business. Did you know that Mexico is now considered the number 2 threat to the United States even after Iraq? Phoenix is now the number 1 kidnapping city in the United States because of Mexican drug cartels.
[Illegal aliens caught trying to enter the U.S. via the hills around Nogales]
**Disclaimer: I would like to mention too, about Phoenix being the number 1 kidnapping city in the U.S. It's not like when you get off the plane at Sky Harbor Airport that someone snatches you and throws you in a van, or when you drive in from one of the numerous freeways we have that a mysterious car is following you to your destination. You just have to be careful and aware of where in our city you are going, because ending up in the wrong side of town can get sketchy, and that is where these occurences are happening.**