KMIR News Special Report: Protecting Our Borders in Changing Tim - Palm Springs News, Weather, Traffic, Breaking News

KMIR News Special Report: Protecting Our Borders in Changing Times

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Imperial County, CA -

"We're constantly looking for illegal entries, obviously that's going to be our number one mission on top of that our biggest mission is to detect possible terrorists or terrorist weapons from entering the country," says U.S. Border Patrol Agent Justin Castrejon. 

The mission of border agents sounds simple. But simple doesn't mean easy. In the El Centro Sector, 1000 U.S. Border and Customs agents safeguard 70 miles of international border. Stopping the illegal flow of people, drugs and weapons can be a daunting task.

"Yeah, it is a great responsibility a thought that potentially something that we don't catch may come into the country and could possibly harm people in the U.S.," says Castrejon.  

Along the border "the fence" takes on many shapes and styles. The most common one is made up of metal bars.

"The purpose of the bars is that so we can see what's going on the south side especially for safety reasons for our agents," says U.S. Border Patrol Agent Alessio Faccin.  

We didn't realize just how important it is to see through the fence until we got to the Calexico / Mexicali side. This area is so notorious for rock throwers, border patrol vehicles must be equipped with metal mesh on the windows. Agents told us if we stayed here long, we too would become targets.

"It's usually the guides that use violence to further their smugglees (sic) through the borders," says Faccin. 

But there's danger for those crossing too, from the elements and the very people who smuggle them across. A newly washed up raft next to the Colorado River, known for its strong currents, shows how risky the journey can be. 

"Smugglers are careless all they care about is money and getting to the next load of people or drugs," says Faccin.  

And agents, also trained as first responders don't hesitate to help. Last year alone border agents saved nearly 4000 lives. 

"I myself am trained as an EMT so whereas yes our priority is to enforce immigration and secure the border it can quickly turn into ... a situation where we would need to treat a patient they now become instead of someone we're arresting now they become a patient," says Castrejon. 

But most of their daily tasks involve watching and waiting. And believe it or not one of their most effective tools in stopping illegal crossings is not high tech. It's done with old tires being dragged behind an SUV. This smooths out the dirt so agents can easily spot fresh footprints.

"Old techniques that we have inherited from the Native Americans on how to track footprints on the ground we detect the prints on the border, we follow them we find the people," says Faccin.  

So while many worry about changes, Faccin says, "What people should distinguish is us doing our job versus fear mongering beliefs that we are out chasing people in the streets or in markets or in schools and that we do a lot of activities with our society with our communities ... to try to help the community to get better," adding that agents are just doing their jobs and the so called new policies have not changed what they do everyday to keep out country safe, "The fact that the administration has decided to put out these memos is just as a reminder, nothing has changed we're still operating the way we have been operating under the same criterias (sic) the same laws, nothing is new."

Agents also say that building a border wall is not a catch all answer to solving the complex issues on the border, instead it's well trained agents with many tools at their disposal who will keep the country safe. 

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