Why is it that we fear law enforcement even if we have done nothing wrong?
Have you ever arrived at the border with a twinge of fear? Hopefully, you were not a wanted criminal at the time of the crossing (And you are not one now, right?!), you did not try to smuggle something through, and you did have a visa (or other access-granting documentation). If you travel internationally on a regular basis, such crossing might have become nothing more than a nuisance (Who likes to stand in line?), but for those who do not, it might be a moment of raised blood pressure and increased perspiration. In case of border patrol, you know that they have the power to mess your day up if anything is not ideal. You might not love border patrol because they are an obstacle through which you have to get through to get to your destination. That is understandable. Chances are that you might be short with them because of that. However, they are just doing their jobs, protecting the country for which they work. How do you feel when someone does not treat you courteously at your place of work?
Some people go a step farther and actually claim to hate border patrol agents. The situation is more dire than ever here in the US, during the current political climate. Professions that were respected in the past are now being spat at.
The beginnings of the Border Patrol (BP) date back to the early 1920s. Back then, these agents came from either Texas Rangers or local sheriff’s offices and mainly dealt with whiskey contraband. What is interesting is that these agents often used their own horses and/ or saddles for work. Even though there are still BP agents riding horseback, a lot of changes have been made to the whole profession since the Prohibition era.
Border Patrol is a part of the largest federal law enforcement agency – Customs and Border Protection, which guards 7,000 miles of US’s Northern and Southern border, 95,000 miles of shoreline and over 300 ports of entry. Being a Border Patrol agent is a dream job for some because an entry-level job for someone with a high school diploma guarantees $55,000/ annually in wages. Within four years, it is more than possible for that number to jump to $100,000.
Before, the job involved a lot of hiding, laying low and waiting until a smuggler came along. The agents felt a rush of adrenaline when they chased someone, acting as the border military. Unfortunately, the job has become less than desirable in recent years, as many agents receive death threats and are called “kid killers”. Moreover, the agents only eat at places that they know are safe and friendly. Otherwise, they run the risk of having people spit (and more) into their food.
The suicide rate among these workers is on the rise. Many BP agents struggle with the public’s opinion of them. Moreover, they are currently overworked, understaffed and strained. Their job is not all about catching the bad buys. Nowadays, it involves making sandwiches for migrants. Some even use their own money to buy toys for the detained kids. That, combined with insane heat, the agency is having a tough time recruiting members.
The job follows BP agents home. After long hours spent on serving baby formula and trying to avoid various diseases spreading like wildfire at the detention centers, they go home where they hear the terrible things people say to their families. How would you feel if your kid came home from school and told you that their classmates think you are a terrible human being? Often times, families turn on you. Agents report receiving nasty emails from their family members. It is not unusual for families to be torn apart because of the perception of the Border Patrol agents being monsters.
All of this bothers me because I can put myself in the shoes of those workers. Have you ever thought: “This is not in my job description?” I have. If you were hired to be a cop and now you perform duties of a babysitter, would you not be a little upset? And on top of that, you have to put up with abuse from those that you care for, as well as those for whom you are working. Migrants throw stones at BP agents. American smear them with metaphorical mud.
In the media, we often hear about depression and how we should be kind to one another. That is a great campaign, of which I approve. However, why is it something only meant for some, and not all, people? Why are some people more worthy of our kindness than others? Why do we overlook the person behind the profession? They say it is unfair to generalize, but is it fair to label someone a monster just for doing their legitimate job? Why are doctors considered good and attorneys are considered bad people? They are both professions that are essential to today’s world. Do not hate the player, hate the game instead.
Hate is a strong emotion that has the power to destroy not only the person you hate but also yourself. Do not be quick to hate; especially someone you do not even know.
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