Our Opinion: Plaudits for BP upgrades

May 28, 2002

Many people in Mexico have a terrible impression of the U.S. Border Patrol.

"La Migra" are portrayed across society in Mexico as brutes as intent on beating or killing illegal immigrants as keeping them from entering the country. Lies are circulated about the Border Patrol and true stories of occasional misdeeds are grossly exaggerated.

Those of us who live on the border and have a more objective viewpoint know such a reputation is largely wrong. Most BP agents simply are doing an important job for our nation and are as a civil as possible while doing it.

And more and more in this area of the border, our Border Patrol agents are lifesavers as much or more than they are border guards. They rescue scores of illegal immigrants from the edge of death in our deserts and canals each year. The truth is many Border Patrol agents are heroes.


Yes, nowhere do more people die trying to cross the border than in Imperial County, but nowhere are more saved from certain death by Border Patrol agents.

The Border Patrol started an elite search and rescue team here just months ago to help save lives and it already is showing results. Now the Border Patrol is trying to do even more by putting hovercraft in our local waterways to pull drowning people from canals and, in a pilot program, starting horseback units to patrol remote areas that vehicles can't reach. The BP also has added a Huey helicopter to the local sector in order to reach areas where many immigrants are in danger. These innovations should mean more lives saved.

Most illegal immigrants are crossing the border simply to better their own lives and those of their families. They don't deserve to die for that, and too many have died in Imperial County over the years, particularly in recent years.

Such new programs will not only help save lives, they will do a lot for the morale of Border Patrol agents. Along with being interesting assignments, such efforts will allow Border Patrol agents to feel as if they are doing something even more special, with duties specifically aimed at saving lives.

Despite what anyone thinks, the Border Patrol serves necessary and honorable tasks in protecting our borders and saving the lives of those in peril. With the new innovations, both sides of what the Border Patrol does should be enhanced.

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