Protecting borders: Examining dangers and challenges facing border patrol agents

LAS VEGAS - Human and drug trafficking across the Mexico border is an on-going problem affecting the entire country, including the state of Nevada. Border protection has long been a hot-button issue, so 8 News Now sent a crew to the Arizona-Mexico border to talk to people on both sides of the debate and border.

A 20-foot fence separates the United States from Mexico along the stretch of the international border near the Arizona and California state line.

"Anywhere along the southwest border, you have activity," said Fidel Cabrera, U.S. Border Patrol Agent.

Yuma Sector Border Patrol Agent Fidel Cabrera has been wearing the uniform for 14 years, and he has witnessed the many changes improving border security, including technology and physical barriers.

All this infrastructure is great, but if the agents are not there to actually come in and arrest the person that's coming across illegally, then it's all for nothing," Cabrera said.

Seven hundred of the 2,000 miles along the southwest border has a fence, but in the bare areas, Border Patrol relies on cameras and radar, as well as natural barriers like mountains.

Although the infrastructure has proven to be effective, it hasn't eliminated all of the illegal activity, authorities say.

"Right in this area here is where they had that Jeep a couple of years ago; the Jeep that was trying to ramp over and then slide down on this side," Cabrera said.

During its peak in 2005, Yuma sector agents arrested more than 138,000 immigrants. A hot spot during that time was the border city of San Luis, Arizona where hundreds of immigrants would jump the border at once, easily outnumbering the agents.

"The fencing is there, and the houses are right there so then you're talking about 250, 300 yards so it'd be a mad sprint to get from the Mexican side to the housing on the U.S. side," Cabrera said while pointing to the different areas.

The area has since been reinforced.  It's one of the few areas along the international border with Mexico that has triple fencing on the other side.  8 News NOW found out some of the caught deportees end up at Casa del Migrante, which in English means Home of the Migrant.

"It's located less than a mile away from the international border.  In the facility, men sleep on bunk beds and the rooms are usually filled to capacity.  Many of the men rest before being sent back home, while others will attempt to cross again.  Juan is among them.

Juan, a Mexican citizen, didn't want to show his face on camera, but he said he is in search of a better life.

Juan said he left Mexico with his family after his brother was kidnapped.  Border Patrol Agents caught up with Juan and his wife near San Diego.  Juan's children made it to Los Angeles.

In some cases, illegal entry into the country can result in prison time, but Juan was deported through the San Luis Port on entry days later.  His wife was sent to Tijuana.

Juan says he prays to God he will be reunited with his family soon.

Days after 8 News NOW's visit, Reporter Karen Castro called the shelter, but they didn't have an update on Juan.

In 2016, Yuma-Sector Border Patrol arrested more than 14,000 immigrants.

That's more than double compared to the year before.  Nationwide, more than 408,000 illegal crossers were taken into custody along the southwest border.  Both numbers have risen compared to the year before.


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