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Members of the Border Patrol
Members of the Border Patrol

The paradox of the Border Patrol

According to data from 2016, just over 50% of the border patrol is made up of agents of Latino origin, responsible for stopping and helping to deport thousands…

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Since 1924, the mission of the Border Patrol has been to "restrict the illegal flow of immigration." But in 1952, its role expanded to the possibility of arresting and assisting in the legal prosecution of immigrants crossing the border without proper documentation.

At that time, officers of Latino origin "were a small minority," recalls the Los Angeles Times: in 1989 they represented 36% of the agency, but today they account for more than 50%.

With the new immigration measures of President Trump - who has requested the hiring of 5,000 additional agents for the border corps - the number of Latinos willing to join the force has increased.

"With so many of the immigrants crossing the border illegally from Mexico and Latin America – and many border towns being majority Latino – recruiting people who are more likely to speak Spanish has always made sense,” the report explains.

"Heritage is not to be confused with patriotism”

In a world as globalized as the current one - and in a constant contradiction between the openness towards multiculturalism and nationalist impenetrability - these Latin patrollers are a sample of the great paradox that turns out to be immigration.

The Los Angeles Times collects the stories of several young second-generation immigrants who dream of being part of the Border Patrol, and who are currently being trained in the El Centro sector in California. Practically, all are often faced with the dilemma of having to "apprehend one of their own".

For Salvador Zamora, acting chief patrol agent in the El Centro sector, the matter is simple: "it's the law." "It is right and wrong. It is not against any one race or any one ethnic group or any one particular group of people."

Many of them are also children or relatives of former agents, and their professional vocation is also something of a heritage. There is even an agent whose mother, a retired agent, once crossed the border illegally and, after putting her status in order, joined the force thanks to the recommendation of a neighbor.

For Vicente Paco, an agent of the Border Patrol interviewed by the Guardian his ancestry is not a problem. "We have a mission. I would never jeopardize my job. Heritage is not to be confused with patriotism," he said.

A "humane" agency

Although the latest figures have shown that fewer people have tried to cross the border in recent months, the risks remain the same.

Trafficking, assassinations, dehydration or eventual deportation are some of the great risks faced by people who venture out of their countries and try to cross the border.

For Paco, the migrants are introduced into a labyrinth financed by “bankroll ruthless criminal empires that flood the United States with drugs - and often end up being betrayed." "People are raped, killed, robbed. They get abandoned. They run out of water."

According to his perspective as an agent, "the Border Patrol, in contrast, is a humane agency": "we often become first responders. It shouldn’t be a death sentence to come across the border," he said.

For many of these migrants, however, the risks of staying home are much greater, and the promise of so many others who did it before would suffice.

One way or another, you have to provide

These new patrollers have an opportunity on the other side of the border, and they won’t squander it.

"Here is the other thing to understand about the Border Patrol," observes the Guardian, "The job offers good pay - some agents start on $ 49,000 - plus excellent health, retirement, and pension benefits." Paco also explains that "in border areas, there are not always a lot of job options. This is a great career."

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