Tips for the Media When Dealing with
the Border Patrol
Completely unofficial comments by Ray Harris
WHO WE ARE
We are the United States Border Patrol.
The Border Patrol is a division of the Bureau of Customs and
Border Protection, which is, in turn, a division of the
Department of Homeland Security.
The men and women who work as agents are not
border guards. They are Border Patrol Agents. That
is what we call ourselves, and we hope that you will honor
this. All three words are capitalized because it is a
title: Border Patrol Agent "Border Patrol Agent
Smith is a seven year veteran of the Border Patrol."
The term border guards sounds very East German to us.
We love to tell our story because we are
proud of what we do. We might not want our names
published due to security issues for our family members.
We put a lot of really ugly people in jail, and we ask that
you obtain permission from the agent prior to publication if
you plan to use their name.
We have PIO people. These are the
folks you will normally deal with. What you want to do
is get a ride along with a working agent. Our PIO folks
are nice people, really nice people. They closely toe
the company line, and that is not a bad thing. They are
trained in how to deal with the media, trained by the guys in
DC. Ask yourself, "Why is this person NOT out
working in the field?" (Disclaimer for the PIO's:
This does not apply to EVERY PIO person. You know who
you are, whichever category you fall into, so don't even
bother telling me.)
If you happen to get a ride along with a
real sweaty, dirty BPA (you can call us that, too. Well, maybe
not sweaty and dirty, but BPA is just fine.), please keep in
mind that this person wants to give you a vivid picture of how
stuff works on the border, the danger, the skills required to
be a BPA, the empathy we have for the people we take into
custody. Please be careful with your quotes. You
can get the agent in deep doodoo. If they slip up and
use prohibited words like wet, or tonk, be aware
that these are officially prohibited terms, and they are not
for public consumption. We work with these documentally
challenged individuals on a daily basis, and while we mean no
disrespect to anyone, the abbreviations are just too useful
and too ingrained to jettison from our everyday speech.
A knowledgeable BPA told me recently that the term tonk
originates from the Khoja
people from Tonk, India. I Googled it, and the story has
some basis in fact. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonk,_India.
The term wetback is even used by the Mexican illegal
aliens to describe themselves. They refer to themselves
as mojados or panzas mojadas (wet bellies).
It even has official usage in the US government as
"Operation Wetback" around 1954. We have come
a long way from using it officially to it being a prohibited
ROCKINGS, STONINGS, ROCK
FIGHTS, ASSAULTS ON AGENTS
Rockings: First, you need to
understand that shooting someone is a last resort for a Border
Patrol Agent or any other law enforcement officer. Why
do we shoot people who throw rocks at us? The media
seems to have some child-like vision of a kid's dirt clod
fight. The assailants are throwing grapefruit-sized
rocks or half bricks at us. They do not care if we are
injured or killed.
THEY DO KNOW BETTER.
It should not come as a surprise to them
when they get return fire. Sorry, we do not throw rocks.
If you do an article on a rock-throwing incident, please ask
the agents involved if they can show you projectiles, bodily
injuries or damage to government property. If you think
for one minute that agents' lives are not in danger during a
rocking, we would be happy to provide a demonstration and you
get to play the agent. Guess what part we play! I
have personally known an agent who was so severely injured
during a rock-throwing incident that he had to medically
retire. Remember, in the Middle East, they STILL kill
people by stoning. Rocks are dangerous and we will
BPA's are NOT CBPO's. Customs and
Border Protection Officers are highly dedicated officers who
work AT the ports of entry. They do not like to be
called Border Patrol Agents anymore than we like being called
CBPO's or border guards. BPA's work between the ports of
entry to prevent and detect illegal entries into the United
States. We wear green uniforms (mostly) and they wear
blue. The photo at the top of the page has been previously published.
We are mostly family people. We have a
job to do and we, for the most part, enjoy what we do.
We have feelings just like any other human being. When a
BPA is trying to save the life of a sunstroke victim, they
don't think about the person's immigration status. When
that life slips away with the BPA still holding that person in
their arms, the tears on the agent's face will be genuine.
We DO NOT HATE the people who invade our borders every day.
We are not Nazis or racists or any of the several other labels
that people try to put on us for simply protecting our
country's borders. We are the proud men and women of the
United States Border Patrol and we take great pride in serving
These comments should not, in any way, be
taken as official. HonorFirst.com is an UNofficial web
site with NO direct relation to the US Border Patrol. The
thoughts expressed are my own and are likely shared by about
99 and 34/100ths percent of all BPAs.