A Day in the Life of the Border Patrol as Seen from My Yard

I am trying to document in a neutral way what it is like here. Pictures can and are used for political statements, life being what it is—contentious and difficult. Interpretation from one individual to another is inevitable. So, while attempting to record real life, the lines between fact—and interpretation of fact—are often impossible to separate, simply because the pictures exist. I won’t insult you by telling you what to think. In fact, I would like to know what you think.

There was some Border Patrol drama in my backyard yesterday. The weather has cooled to 75º and humidity 29%, so a beautiful day here means a busy one for Border Patrol. It’s the first time I’ve seen a helicopter land in the desert—these pilots are all business. All of them—the horse, truck, and ATV patrols—are tough, civil, and respectable. Few who apply actually make it in. They live and have families here, shop here, adopt animals, go to the vet, have kids in school. They are Latino and white, male and female.  But the most impressive are agents on foot. Can you see how local girls are known to get the vapors when they’re around?

I would like to photograph more of these scenes but I don’t want my neighbors to think I would call the BP. I have never called, and wouldn’t unless I felt threatened. What would you do?

First I saw the helicopter hovering over the desert behind my house. This is common because we live in a ‘corridor.’



Next, border patrol trucks start flying down my street. They pulled into a nearby parking lot, jumped out of their trucks, ran toward the desert and went over a fence.



I walked back into my backyard, and to my surprise the helicopter had landed. At first I thought it was to help the agents on the ground, but I think it was to transport someone who may have been hurt. They routinely fly injured individuals to hospitals here, or Sierra Vista, or Tucson.



Back of helicopter as it lifts off



Here he/she is leaving. If I had known he was going to land I would have stayed there and watched and taken additional pictures.






9 responses to “A Day in the Life of the Border Patrol as Seen from My Yard

  1. If your neighbors are going to think that you called, they will anyway whether you did, in fact, call. Calls are kept confidential, so any neighbor inquiring of BP as to who called would be told “Sorry that is privileged or confidential’. It is not about immigration, but about the law. Law breakers get arrested, and if not from here, sent back where they live.

  2. Hi Alan, Wow, you sure are qualified. I don’t think my neighbors would call, we get along pretty well for the most part, but the constant incidents in my neighborhood are stressful. Sometimes I walk the trails in the desert behind my house and the evidence of illegals is much more common than people want to know—I see their resting spots of flattened brush under mesquite trees with piles of garbage in them all along those trails. Really just a few hundred feet away from my house. I don’t fly the American flag here, wear flag T-shirts, or even let my dogs wear American flag bandannas. I just don’t want any trouble. I already have a pellet or BB gun hole in my front window—I’m not sure what it is.

    I am tired of the boycotts, the poverty here, having to keep quiet, the government suing AZ in its time of dire need…but mostly I’m tired of the ignorance and hate from people who have never been here and couldn’t be more clueless.

    Thank you for commenting, and for your years of service with the Border Patrol. I have a lot of respect for the USBP—that is one tough job—and what people don’t realize, it takes compassion too.

    • Thank you for the reply. It is such an unpopular job, and so political, even worse than when I started over 32 yrs ago.

      I invite you to take a look at the website I list, as we are working hard to educate Americans and legislatures. We have just come out with a plan for enforcement & reform (look here & ck. news: https://sites.google.com/site/nafbpo/).
      If you are in the south western corner of AZ, I have some BP friends there who fly out of Yuma.

  3. Debra: I admire your documentary-personal post. Such a different life out there near the border. The ristra on my blog was found in the little market next to La Fonda in Santa Fe. They had other ristras, but this one appealed to me and I walked across the street to photograph it.

    That the Border Patrol transports the injured is so very good. They are not just enforcers, but helpers.

    • Jack, BP has specially trained Agents working as a unit called BORSTAR, or Search, Trauma and Rescue. These agents include highly trained & experienced paramedics, mountain climbing, divers, etc. The number of illegals they save in the heat/cold of the southwestern desert is incredible.

  4. As long as it’s understood how expensive it is and who is funding it. Which is why it’s so unbelievable that the US government is suing AZ, it should be the other way around. Saving lives is part of the job, but unfortunately compassion doesn’t come cheap.

    • Yet at the same time, the experience prepares these same agents to also save other agents when they are trapped, injured, etc. One agent I know paid his own way through a tactical course, where, among other things, they learned & practiced flying into a ‘hot zone’ (being fired at by one or more guns), firing back as they approached, in order to rescue injured agents/officers. I’d rather see the money spent to save lives than fly Michelle to Europe for a vacation from a vacation-or was that the Cape Cod one?

  5. Hi Debra, I happen to stumble across your blog today and came across this post. I am also from the east coast and live outside of Phoenix now.

    My husband works in Gila Bend where there are a lot of illegals crossing the desert. Recently an elderly man came out of the desert to where my husband was working. He had been injured and the smugglers just left him there. Another time a few men armed with shot guns came out of the desert and asked for water. My husband gave them the water and they took off again into the desert. Needless to say he was shooken up a bit after that. Both times BP was called. They were able to help the injured man and the others with the guns disappeared back into the desert. I can see how it might be difficult to not want to disturb the peace of your neighborhood. I know in my husband’s case there is always the thought of retaliation if BP is called.

    (Btw, I know someone else in Bisbee who is also involved with a shelter there. It might be a long shot but his first name is Oscar. ).

  6. Hi Monsoon, we walk a fine line along the border. Bisbee is a very liberal town, and even the mayor made a public statement that he doesn’t want more border patrol here, which is hard to believe because it is not in the best interest of the residents. Many people here naively believe we should do away with BP and open up the borders. There are thousands coming through every day. Schoolteachers along the border have no idea where the students actually live.

    One of these days I’m going to do a post on BORSTAR—those people put their lives on the line every single day.

    Animal shelter or homeless shelter? We have both! Oscar doesn’t ring any bells though…

    Thanks for writing.

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