Border Patrol Agents Tough Rigorous Terrain To Protect Oklahomans
It is one of the hottest topics in American politics right now, security along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Coming in at nearly 2,000 miles long, what crosses it has a direct impact on your neighborhood.
There are many things you'll find in far southern Texas. A predator in search of its prey, the sun setting on another day. Integrated in all of this are agents that make up Customs and Border Protection.
“From as far as you can see to the west and as far as you can see and even then some to the east, that is my area of responsibly,” said Derek Boyle, patrol agent-in-charge at the Presidio office.
The Presidio Port of Entry and its surrounding area are unique.
A place where Mother Nature constantly works against you. A town where scouts watch your every move and a river are the only things stopping your journey across.
“There (are) a number of drug smuggling organizations and alien smuggling organizations that we have identified that have roots, they’re in Oklahoma,” said Boyle. “They’re in Oklahoma City. They come in through Ojinaga, Mexico, up to Oklahoma City in Oklahoma and from there it gets scattered out.”
Nobody is more familiar to that than Agent Ivan Arredondo.
“As soon as you wake up and throw on the uniform, you're on duty,” said Arredondo. “There is no doubt about that, you’re in a heightened state, always looking.”
An immigrant himself, scaling the unforgiving terrain and preparing for extreme temperatures on both sides of the thermometer are just another day at the office.
“I don't know how many times I’ve seen markers, ball caps, shoes, other articles of clothing up on reflectors, piled up rocks indicating a marking spot for a pickup,” said Arredondo. “You always have to keep your eyes peeled.”
Communication by satellite is the only option as cellphone service is nonexistent in many portions of the Big Bend Ranch State Park.
“When we come into an area, we are very careful about how we shut our doors, how loud we talk, our radios, all that stuff comes into effect,” said Arredondo. “When you're out here, you can say one thing in a normal, conversational voice like we are having now, and it will echo miles down this canyon.”
Criminals do take priority, however, the biggest crisis plaguing this area is the humanitarian one. Rescues are far too common for agents.
Clothing left behind at a popular crossing spots are a symbol of desperation.
“We see a lot of people in distress, we see a lot of people that have a hard time and they have a dream to come to the United States, but at the end of the day, we have a job to do,” said Arredondo. “I think the big thing for me is keeping the drugs off the streets.”
There are a number of tools agents use to track down leads on illegal aliens spotting coming into the United States.
Horses help play catch up, capable of tackling mountainous terrain.
ATVs are a great asset which help search for footprints in territory meant to be undisturbed.
“The ATVs and the horseback actually give us an advantage as far as catching up to individuals,” said Boyle. “They know where they are going. We have no idea where they are going. We are reading the terrain, actually trying to figure out where they are going based on the disturbance and by normal avenues of approach.”
Demographics of illegal aliens continue to change, as the number of arrests continue to decline.
“Our mission is to prevent the entry or terrorist and terrorist weapons into the United States, so when I look at 9-11 and look at those incidents, I am committed that we are not going to have one of those on my watch that while our team is out there,” said Big Bend Sector Chief Patrol Agent Matthew Hudak. “We are not going to have something like that happen again, we are going to do our part to keep America safe.”