The U.S. Customs and Border Protection was once considered a low-key organization, but now with controversies at the border front and center, they have become one of the most high-profile agencies in the United States Government.
This shift in public perception is due to significant policy changes under the new administration. These changes have increased the demands of Border Patrol officers as they try to carry out the administration’s orders while their practices are thrust into a negative and often divisive spotlight.
How U.S. Border Patrol duties have changed
Initially, a day in the life of a Border Patrol officer was spent watching barbed-wire fences and seamlessly driving up and down the border looking for possible runaways, migrants or drug mules. That has changed dramatically since the current president took office. As the administration vowed to slam the door shut on illegal immigration, the agency is now symbol of brute force in the border crossing crackdown. Before, they were mainly required to catch people illegally crossing the border, but now they are responsible for blocking and detaining thousands of migrants and separating families who enter the U.S., many of whom are fleeing undesirable conditions in their home countries.
Why so many officers are now quitting
Some of these new duties have left some officers upset and depressed. According to one news story, one woman said that putting people in cages for nonviolent activity started to “eat away at her.”Other agents have been harassed by members of their community, often being called “sellouts” or “kid killers.” Many Border Patrol officers have even said they will only eat lunch at certain restaurants because they fear people spitting in their food.
A hidden culture of hostility has not helped
Now fueled by the executive branch’s recent demands, hostility may have already been festering for a while in some sects of the Border Patrol. A recent investigation of 62 current and eight former Border Patrol officers revealed they were part of a private Facebook group sharing photos deemed as racist, sexist and misogynistic towards migrant families and some members of congress.
Conflict at the border is far from over
It’s no surprise the job has taken a psychological toll on both men and women who have served in the agency. As the crisis at the border carries on, numerous current and former Border Patrol officers have said nothing is changing and the same outcomes are repeating themselves over and over again.
This, of course, is a small consolation to those detained, but it is good to know that at least some of them know that stripping people of their dignity and throwing them in jail is not the America that they know and love.