Friday, June 29, 2018

Wanted: US border patrol agents, all ‘creeds, religions, ethnicities’

     The news might crackle with emotion, the cries both of detained children and partisan outrage. But the machinery of the federal bureaucracy whirs steadily onward, undeterred.
     The Choice Chicago Career Fair held on the second floor of the Holiday Inn Express on Dundee Road in Palatine Thursday had tables handing out flying discs and water bottles, ballpoint pens and magnets. It included recruiters from Aflac and Grainger, the Nosh Group and Pet Health and, tucked between the First Student bus company and Just Energy, was United States Customs and Border Protection, handing out lanyards and Post-It notepads and looking for personnel to deploy to our nation's southern border.
     "On the whole southern border," said Orlando Ruiz, an 8-year veteran, who is finding keen interest in CBP jobs. "Everyplace we go, we always do."
     Any why not? The thick glossy brochure titled "WE ARE AMERICA'S FRONTLINE" lists benefits from "10 paid holidays per year" to the federal retirement plan, not to mention "a priority mission of keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the United States."
     Starting pay can be as high as $50,000.
     "As soon as you get out of the academy, you start making overtime," said Ruiz. "Border Patrol makes 25 percent overtime per year."
     Border Patrol agents undergo 120 days of training.
     "Because we are in the southern border, desert. It's tougher terrain," said Ruiz. "We need more training because we work outdoors. Sometimes when you're down there you're by yourself, covering five miles. It is difficult."
     The images of children being torn from their parents has not reduced interest in working for CBP.
     "No, not at all," said Ruiz. "This is a great career. Job security is hard to find."
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  1. Should people of good conscience not want to work for the border patrol? Should the border patrol be disbanded? What changes should be supported regarding enforcement of existing immigration laws at the southern border?

    Should we have an open border policy more like the EU for Canada, Mexico and the US?

    Should families be held in camps after they've been detained? For how long?

  2. I recently read a book called "The Line Becomes a River," by Francisco Cantu, who served as a Border Patrol agent for about three years. The title refers to the point near El Paso where the straight line of the U.S.-Mexico border meets the Rio Grande.

    The book captures the conflict, which Cantu vividly felt, between treating border crossers as suffering people who need help and as lawbreakers. And suffer they do: He graphically describes the dehydration, heatstroke, blistering and numerous other travails they undergo in that godforsaken landscape.

    Fluent in Spanish, he tries to help and be compassionate. But the BP weaponizes that suffering too. To elude agents in pursuit, border crossers must shed the backpacks they invariably carry. If the agents can't catch them, they go back to the backpacks and pour out, burn, urinate on or otherwise destroy the food, water and clothing inside, so that the crossers won't be able to double back and recover their supplies. That will force them to seek refuge, either at a BP station or at one of the tiny Indian villages scattered throughout the region. The village residents routinely give water and shelter to those people, and just as routinely call the BP on them; the exhausted crossers sit passively and wait to be arrested. (This is also why the BP destroys caches of water and food that humanitarian groups leave in the desert.)

    Of course there are the genuinely bad, dangerous border crossers too, drug smugglers and other criminals. They often intimidate the Indian residents.

    Cantu finally can't take the contradictions anymore and leaves the service. The last part of the book describes the ordeal of an acquaintance who is in the country illegally, returns to Mexico to visit his dying mother, and is trapped there. Desperate to see his wife and sons again, he tries to get back into the U.S. and is arrested.

    A terrific, disturbing book. I highly recommend it.

  3. Today, my wife and I went to the demonstration against Trump's immigration policies down at the Old State Capitol in Springfield. There were a few hundred people there and I must say that Trump definitely had more people at his inauguration. :-) There were some there whom you'd suspect had been demonstrating starting back in the sixties but you had a nice mixture of people there.

    The speakers went on for about a hour. I did not agree with everything as when someone supported Maxine Water's call to go after Trumpers. However, one of the speakers made a good point in that immigration should not be a partisan issue. After the hour of speeches, the protest came to an end. It was so hot that they decided to dispense with the march.

    My wife and I still walked the block or so to our Congressman's office - Darin LaHood. Not surprisingly, no one was there on a Saturday. However, my wife will be dropping by in the next week to let his staffers know our thoughts on immigration policy. It's a shame that he has not had a public town hall in over a year.

    Afterwards, we went to the Burger Bar which has some good eats including chicken sandwiches. There was a couple sitting at the table next to us with the guy and his MAGA hat. I didn't feel any need to browbeat him or anything else like that. In this country, we make out points using ballots not bullets and that's the way it should stay. We're definitely not part of the "Resistance" but this was the first time that either of us has taken part in a protest. Separating kids from their parents is cruel especially for a misdemeanor offense. It is embarrassing how the administration still hasn't gotten its story straight on immigration and getting the kids back with their parents.


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