From Well-Dressed and Rested to Exhausted, Bedraggled and Extremely Fearful / by Karie Luidens

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When I visited the southern edge of the U.S. a few weeks ago, I just wanted to get a feel for the place. I drove parallel to the border, a couple miles north of Mexico, along New Mexico State Road 9 from El Paso to the state’s famously remote Bootheel. Once I made it to the Antelope Wells port of entry, I stopped long enough to feel the dusty wind and watch some cows grazing among the tumbleweeds. But I didn’t linger for hours beyond that. I didn’t stay past dusk to see anyone cross into the country and interact with Border Patrol.

Happily for me, there are professional journalists doing just that, and I highly recommend their recent reporting. This Albuquerque Journal article gives a sense of the variety of people who are traveling north from Latin America to turn themselves in at the border.

8 hours on the border

Sunday, March 10th, 2019 at 12:05am

From late afternoon into Monday night, Romero will encounter more than 60 such migrants, with the vast majority asking for asylum. They are all ages, including infants and toddlers in the arms of their parents. They also cover the gamut from well-dressed and rested to exhausted, bedraggled and extremely fearful.

Romero will also run into four heavily armed militia members who have camped out to keep watch. And he will spot a man wearing sunglasses and a cap seated across the border in Mexico taking notes, clearly a lookout for the human smugglers, the agent says. […]

Some agents spend their shifts shuttling migrants to the processing center while other agents are dedicated to filling out paperwork for hundreds of parents and children seeking asylum. Other agents are assigned “hospital watch” and accompany migrants sent for medical care.

If those sound like responsibilities you’d like to take on as your full-time job, please note that the Border Patrol is hiring. The body of the article describes how their resources are stretched thin and they’ve got positions open in the El Paso sector, which includes all of New Mexico’s borderlands.

On top of that, the Border Patrol is actually running ads to recruit new agents—two of them appeared on my screen between paragraphs while I scrolled.

“CONTINUE YOUR SERVICE AS A BORDER PATROL AGENT,” the first one reads. “PROTECTION. PRIDE, POSITIONS AVAILABLE.” Both little squares were the same olive green as agents’ uniforms, with a bright blue button inviting readers to JOIN US.

I can’t fathom actually joining their ranks, but of course I had to click and see where the ads took me.