Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Seventeen years ago this month I was hired as an Agent with the U.S. Border Patrol. I was sent to the academy at a temp facility in Alabama and stationed at the I-5 checkpoint near San Clemente, California.
I was a fun job back in those days but the greatest lesson I learned was from an illegal alien from Mexico who we had apprehended. We apprehended about 5 to 6 thousand illegal aliens a month back in the early 90's when I was at San Clemente.
Paperwork was done on every illegal alien we caught and this was the very first illegal alien I processed. He was from southern Mexico and was probably in his mid 40's although the rough life of these people tended to make them appear older.
We were trained to ask if an individual had any scars or marks and we would note it down on the paperwork. This man raised his shirt when I asked and showed me a very large scar on his abdomen. He had been stabbed by border bandits during one attempt to cross into the United States.
We also searched their belongings for contraband and weapons and would look through wallets for fake immigration documents that many carried. In this man's wallet I found a note that had been written by two of his children. It was a Christmas wish list. His son wanted a remote controlled car and his daughter wanted barbie dolls.
This first man who I processed in my career would set the tone for my career which stays with me to this day. I have seen people who struggle to get what they have without complaining. I took water and a blanket to a couple but could not console them. They had been abandoned by three smugglers after those men had taken turns pistol whipping the man and raping the woman. I stood on that checkpoint on a cold winter night when a car approached driven by a man with a terrified look on his face and a woman sitting in the passenger seat who was more like a statue. The woman held a baby and as the car stopped at my side I could see a toddler sleeping in the back seat. The man timidly showed me his immigration document and I waved the whole family up the road towards Los Angeles. I wasn't the only one to have done that back in those days.
I transferred to the southern border as an inspector and soon learned who all the local drug traffickers were and watched them cross into the U.S. with their visas. I listened to the Agriculture inspector complain because during the night shift we would let the kids come up to our booths and take the prohibited fruits and vegetables out of the buckets that we would toss them into when we took them away from people trying to sneak them in.
Now I work in an airport as an inspector and I see people flying home on planes after taking multi thousand dollar cruises and complaining that the line is too long and they want to get their starbucks before getting on the plane and why don't I stamp their receipts so they can get their Canadian sales tax refund.
It has been interesting to say the least. I have been able to support my family and help some people out. Although I have not been assaulted I have been in a few wrestling matches. Just 15 short years and I'll be able to retire.
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