Student sees Border Patrol from different perspective

by TOVI OYERVIDEZ//Photo Editor

TOVIS_OPINION_PHOTO-min

Building a wall between the United States and Mexico has been a very heated topic ever since President Donald Trump announced it during his campaign.

With American’s differences about the wall, has anyone ever thought about the people who protect it every day?

I was given the privilege of visiting the United States Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico on March 9. With my own eyes and camera, I was able to capture and witness the training that protects our borders.

Like any morning for a trainee, it’s waking up before sunrise and heading down to the chow hall and rushing out before 7:30 a.m. before the first class. Being late is not acceptable.

Spanish class was first on the agenda. The class uses local residents as volunteer actors who speak Spanish to help participate in scenarios such as border checkpoints that the trainees might need to help them in the field. It can be a challenge to use your training you learned and then speak Spanish at the same time, without messing up.  Not all the trainees are Hispanic, and most do have to learn Spanish. Every graduating officer becomes fluent in Spanish. I always believe communication is key with people.

After Spanish scenarios, we headed to the gun range. Let me just say that I have never shot any kind of automatic rifles before. Cheers to the women who can stand their ground and shoot targets point blank. I, on the other hand, needed another hand pressed against my back so I wouldn’t fly away.

Eating lunch in the chow hall was probably the cheapest meal I have ever eaten. It was better than the food at a college cafeteria, which I wish could be as cheap.

After lunch, we did the best thing our stomachs could ask for. We headed to the driving course to get in on their driving skills. We were each given our very own Border Patrol SUV and driver. My driver, Richie, was the first person I have ever felt so comfortable driving with. His skills were impeccable, and the ride was so smooth, even though the tactics we were experiencing were wild, especially when we were practicing pitting and pursuits.

I never really knew how much time and effort went into becoming a Border Patrol Agent. We were only there for a day, and I saw so many things they do to train the best agents possible.

The physical training, learning Spanish, and driving skills are just a few of the skills the agents need.

Capturing my time there was beyond amazing, and everyone was very courteous and generous. We felt welcomed everywhere we went. Never once did anyone bring up the wall. The main things they are trying to stop from entering the country are terrorists and drugs, especially heroin. The agents know even with a wall, they are still going to be doing their jobs.

I have never felt so safe in any type of facility, and I knew we were in such good hands. I am very grateful to have witnessed the special training that is required to protect this land. I’m most grateful for the men and women who protect and serve our borders everyday.

[Photo by TOVI OYERVIDEZ/PLAINSMAN PRESS]

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