A Border Patrol job is not only a dangerous one, but it has become a thankless, if not will-crushing, one amid massive anti-Trump sentiment and protests against crackdowns on illegal immigration, according to a report in The New York Times.
"To have gone from where people didn't know much about us to where people actively hate us, it's difficult," retired Border Patrol agent Chris Harris told the Times. "There's no doubt morale has been poor in the past, and it's abysmal now. I know a lot of guys just want to leave."
The Times compiled tales of woe from 25 current and former agents on the southern border, outlining the struggles of a group tasked with upholding U.S. immigration laws against public vilification of those who attempt to.
"We've done more for these aliens than these senators and congressmen that come down here," an agent in the El Paso, Texas, sector told the Times. "They make this big scene but then the next day they get on a plane to go back home.
"They didn't take any of them with them, right? They're going home to their running water, to their nice, comfortable bed, and meantime, we're here dealing with them."
As much as the narrative for the border crackdown by the Trump administration has been negative, it can be traced to politicization of border security, according to a 10-year veteran agent in South Texas to the Times.
"I have personally not come across any agents that do not like Trump's positions on border security, on immigration," the agent told the Times. "Hispanic, Latino, black, white — it doesn't matter the origin of the agents, they all have a strong border-security mentality. So they love what Trump brings to the table. What they hate, what is detrimental, is the complete opposite feeling from the Democratic side."
The negative political and media narratives have created a stressful job environment and made it difficult for Customs and Border Protection to fill open positions, as it is about 1,800 short of one-time hiring targets, according to the Times.
"The difference between doing the job now and when I started is like night and day," California agent Eduardo Jacobo told the Times. "Before, it was a rush of adrenaline when you caught people with drugs. You were doing more police stuff. Now it's humanitarian work.
"If you ask anybody about being in Border Patrol, they're playing a movie scene in their head, jumping into a burning building and saving people. Now, it means taking care of kids and giving them baby formula."
Former agent Francisco Cantú wrote a memoir of his time in the agency from 2008 to 2012 during the Obama administration, before the negatively reached his recent crescendo.
"The intense criticism that is being directed at the Border Patrol is necessary and important because I do think that there's a culture of cruelty or callousness," Cantú, author of "The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border," told the Times. "There's a lack of oversight. There is a lot of impunity."
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