No respect: Borders and Border Patrol


By Lt. Jim Glennon, Lombard, IL (ret.)

During the past two years I’ve had the absolute privilege of working many times with members of our nation’s Border Patrol as well as other Agencies within the Homeland Security umbrella (ICE, Customs, OIG, etc.). As an instructor I have been in the Border Patrol Sectors of El Centro and San Diego California, as well as Del Rio, Texas. I’ve been with ICE in Los Angeles and at an OIG Conference in Dallas.

Prior to my involvement I was totally ignorant to the following:

• who these people actually were
• what their respective agencies were responsible for
• how bad the illegal immigrant problem is
• how incredibly violent many of these illegals are
• the massive amounts of narcotics seized by Border Agents annually
• the emergence of Mexican terrorist “hit squads” murdering thousands along the border
• that Phoenix, Arizona (yes right here in the U.S.) is second only to Mexico City for the most kidnappings for ransom in the entire world (!)
• and finally, how incredibly ignorant the rest of this country — especially our objective and “unbiased” media — is to the reality of this dire national security threat

What seems to get lost in the mix is that these Border Patrol Agents are out there, in the desert, with little back-up, always outnumbered (sometimes 100-1), often outgunned, facing sociopathic killers who are trafficking in either humans or narcotics, and most of the time they are facing these opponents in the dark! I’ve looked into the faces of hundreds of these brave young men and women — some as young as 21 years old — and you know what? They have only one goal and mission in mind: protect our borders.

It seems like 99.9 percent of the time, the media line is that 99.9 percent of the people crossing our southern border are just poor innocents looking for work and a meager wage. Evaluated in the most simplistic terms, this is of course, partly true.

But the more complex reality isn’t that simple or sanitary. Many, many of these people become victims themselves. Most pay a ridiculous sum to unscrupulous people who lie to them about where they will go, how they will get there, and what riches await. Thousands are robbed by human traffickers or “border bandits” who take everything of value away from these defenseless people as they wait to cross into the United States. Often they are forced to transport narcotics or at least ride in a truck loaded with illegal drugs. Many wind up as victims of sexual assault.

In recent years, the violence has escalated to heights never experienced before on either side of the border. In Mexico there were approximately 3,000 murders in 2007. That number doubled in one year. In January 2009, Mexico recorded more 1,000 murders, most of which were attributed to the drug trade, gang violence, and Cartel hit squads. On June 6th just outside of a popular Acapulco Resort, 17 people were killed in a five hour gun battle between at least two rival drug gangs, police, and Mexican Army personnel. The gangs threw approximately 50 hand grenades and used assault rifles indiscriminately as civilians and tourist dove for cover.

Jennifer L. Hesterman wrote an exceptional article in The Counter Terrorist  titled “The Mexican Drug War Spills Over United States Border.”  In it she chronicles the emergence of one particular violent paramilitary group. “Imagine, for a moment,” she writes, “that one of America’s elite special operations units goes “rogue” and starts using its specialized skills, equipment, and training against the U.S. government. The members of the unit participate in illegal activities such as drug trafficking, gun running, and human smuggling. They also serve as hit squads, willing to murder innocent victims in return for cash. The unit does not fear, hide, or run from law enforcement; rather, it engages. Meet the Los Zetas organization.”

This is who our, and I do mean our, brother and sisters in the Border Patrol, out there alone in the desert, are in a position to face.

The United States Border Patrol realizes what a daunting task they face both internally and externally. The training directors I’ve met and befriended — John Ramos, Emily Bowling, and Mike Hanson — care deeply about preparing their agents to do their jobs and go home safely to their families at the end of their shifts. They concentrate on Street Survival, Communications, Ethics, and Leadership training. They know all too well the reality of who it is they are facing along that border.

Typically when any law enforcement officer makes a mistake, commits a crime, uses lethal force; the media jumps. Story after story about police wrongdoing — or even the POSSIBILITY of police doing wrong — is written about and reported Ad nauseam. But what about the day-to-day reality of what our Agents are facing? Why aren’t the videos of border penetration and insurgencies shown on the nightly newscasts? Wanna see one? Click here and watch hundreds of illegal immigrants moving across our desert. Notice how many Border Agents there are trying to stop them and protect us?

Before you continue reading, go on back to BLUtube and watch a radical Islamic terrorist (with a smug smile on his face) talk about assigning someone to carry anthrax across the Mexico / U.S. border with the intent to kill more than 300,000 of our citizens.

Then check out the statistics and see how many of our Border Patrol Agents have been killed in the line of duty over the past 20+ years: car accidents, pursuit fatalities, heat stroke, heart attacks, drowning, vehicular homicide, and murder.

Where the hell is the outcry among our citizens? Why aren’t we screaming at our respective representatives about this clear and present danger? I know I sometimes rant, but in this case I do it unapologetically. I know these people — our Border Agents. I know many of them by name and consider some to be true friends. I see their frustration. But let me assure you, their frustration is dwarfed by their very real desire to accomplish their mission, which is simply to protect the rest of us. And we as a society don’t even know they are there. We don’t realize that as we sleep these people are out there, standing guard, in the dark, all alone, in the desert. Most of us can’t even fathom being in that position. I spent 30 years as a cop and I wouldn’t do it; I’m a coward compared to these people.

I think it is high time that we get on their side and realize that there is a terrifying real threat to our borders, our way of life, and our border Agents. It is time to let them know that we appreciate them. I think at least it is time to let them know that in fact we do realize — they are out there.

About the author

Lt. Jim Glennon, the third generation in a family of law enforcement officers, was with the Lombard, Ill. Police Department since 1980. Finishing his career as a Commander Jim held positions as a patrol officer, detective, sergeant, and Commander of the Investigations Unit. In 1998 he was selected as the first Commander of Investigations for the newly formed DuPage County Major Crimes (Homicide) Task Force. Jim instructs various courses for both law enforcement and private industry. He specializes in teaching courses in two fields: Communication (Arresting Communication), and Leadership (Finding the Leader in You: The More Courageous Path).

He is the author of the book: ARRESTING COMMUNICATION: Essential Interaction Skills for Law Enforcement published by PoliceOne and Calibre Press, and available for purchase from PoliceOne Books.

Contact Jim Glennon

  1. Tags
  2. Terrorism Prevention and Response
  3. Border Patrol
  4. Drug Interdiction / Narcotics
  5. International Law Enforcement
  6. Patrol Issues
  7. Homeland Security

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