There's another side to the story, Border Patrol agent says

July 22, 2019 - 6:52 am
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A Border Patrol agent wants to present a different side to the story as politicians describe him and his colleagues as "violent" and "racist," and taking part in a "dehumanized culture."

Agent Jacob Stukenberg, who grew up in the St. Louis area, works in the Tucson, Arizona sector. He describes the situation along the U.S./Mexico border as a crisis, with an enormous number of migrants trying to cross illegally every day. There is a backlog of hundreds of thousands of cases that need to be heard.

Stukenberg has experienced his share of heartache, watching people and families try to escape dangerous living conditions for a better future. He told KMBZ that greed is a motivating factor for people who seek to exploit migrant families.

"People that we're seeing coming across are people usually from outside of Mexico, so they don't know the desert down here, or anything like that, so these people will pay a smuggler, or a coyote, to bring them across, and they're putting their lives in the hands of that smuggler," Stukenberg said. "These are some very unscrupulous people."

Sometimes the journey through rough, unforgiving terrain can take days. Stukenberg said he and his colleagues respond every day to 911 calls for people who are left behind by the coyotes.  

"I couldn't tell you how many times I've given my water, that I'm carrying as I'm hiking the desert, to somebody that I've apprehended, or times that I've shared my lunch," Stukenberg said. "I'm not saying that because I'm special. Every agent I know has done the same thing. I've seen agents carry people out of the desert because they had a twisted ankle or they had blistered feet."

Almost no one crosses the border without some invovement of Mexico's notorious drug cartels, Stukenberg said.

Not everyone crossing the border illegally is pure of heart, Stukenberg said. He's seen cases where people will use children as pawns to get into the U S. They pretend to be a family unit, which cuts down on the length of time they can be legally detained.

Stukenberg remembers an incident in which a young boy, seven or eight years of age, he uses the pronoun "we" in telling his story. That leads agents to uncover that there is a sister, also a child, being kept at a house along the border. The girl was rescued.

When agents finally tracked down the mother, she thanked them, saying the coyotes, associates of a violent drug cartel, told her she had to come up with an additional $20,000 for the girl's release, or they would do with the child as they pleased.

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