Desert Duty: On the Line with the U.S. Border Patrol

Desert Duty: On the Line with the U.S. Border Patrol

Desert Duty: On the Line with the U.S. Border Patrol

Desert Duty: On the Line with the U.S. Border Patrol


While politicians and pundits endlessly debate immigration policy, U. S. Border Patrol agents put their lives on the line to enforce immigration law. In a day's work, agents may catch a load of narcotics, apprehend groups of people entering the country illegally, and intercept a potential terrorist. Their days often include rescuing aliens from death by thirst or murder by border bandits, preventing neighborhood assaults and burglaries, and administering first aid to accident victims, and may involve delivering an untimely baby or helping stranded motorists. As Bill Broyles and Mark Haynes sum it up, "Border Patrol is a hero job," one that too often goes unrecognized by the public.

Desert Dutyputs a human face on the Border Patrol. It features interviews with nineteen active-duty and retired agents who have worked at the Wellton, Arizona, station that watches over what is arguably the most perilous crossing along the border--a sparsely populated region of the Sonoran Desert with little water and summer temperatures that routinely top 110 F. The agents candidly discuss the rewards and frustrations of holding the line against illegal immigrants, smugglers, and other criminals--while often having to help the very people they are trying to thwart when they get into trouble in the desert. As one agent explains, "The thrill is tracking 'em up before they die. It's a rough ol' way to go--run outta water in this desert."


Charles Bowden

Foreword silent long enough

I first met the Border Patrol in the early 1980s because I had decided to break the law. At the time, I worked for a daily paper in Tucson, Arizona, and I was dismayed by scant coverage of Mexican migrants who died crossing the desert in summer. I decided to learn how the Border Patrol worked and started hanging with the agents at Tacna, an isolated station in western Arizona that faced an uninhabited zone of thousands of square miles that ran up against the border. That is when I came to know some of the people in this book. and I decided I needed someone to go with me on my journey. So I called the man who created this book, Bill Broyles. On the night of June 21 we crossed from Sonora with a bunch of Mexicans, a walk that totaled forty-five miles. We staggered out of the desert the next morning and we felt deep pain. the Mexicans had to keep going toward their dreams of jobs and a future, and they had to keep hiding from the Border Patrol.

Since then, the Border Patrol has grown huge, the migration has become the largest one on earth, and the work done by the Border Patrol has remained a mystery to the public. This book should clear up what it feels like to patrol the border and give the reader a real sense of the people who do this work. It has been a labor of love on the part of Broyles and Mark Haynes and, to my knowledge, it is unique. Here you meet the people of the Border Patrol without anything standing between you and their stories.

They are decent people doing a thankless job, mainly trying to stop a migration of the poor from the utter ruin of Mexico. Sometimes they get hurt and sometimes they save people from death in the desert. But almost always, they are props used by proponents and opponents of the migration. Because of the discipline of the service, they are seldom allowed to speak out.

Now we can hear their voices. and I guarantee you are going to be . . .

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