Chief Patrol Agent Rodney Scott remembers the chaos. His first assignment as a new Border Patrol agent in 1992 was along the U.S.-Mexico border near San Diego, a place where thousands of illegal immigrants lined up and rushed the border en masse, their numbers overwhelming the handful of agents trying to stop them.
“On day one when I showed up to work, I saw hundreds of people running up the median of Interstate 5, helicopters buzzing around, and I thought there was some kind of big incident or crisis that day,” Scott said, who now runs the San Diego sector for the U.S. Border Patrol. But he quickly found out it was just a normal day.
Meanwhile, Border Patrol Agent Fidel Baca peers out from the flat expanse of the New Mexico desert along a section of low wall, being met by a new 18-foot tall, steel bollard-style fence replacing the three-foot tall vehicle barrier. While the low barrier was built to keep vehicles from running drugs across the border, it is practically useless in stopping the foot traffic that has increased in recent years.
“This higher barrier will give us more time to react,” Baca said. “The new fence is making it harder for illegal aliens to enter.”
In Arizona, CBP law enforcement personnel are testing the latest technology – such as unmanned aerial vehicles and new radio and surveillance systems – aimed at shoring up the U.S. southern border by augmenting the skills already employed by Border Patrol agents on the ground in conjunction with the wall. The three elements – the wall, the technology and the Border Patrol agents – used in different proportions depending on the location provide for an effective deterrence.
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