Career: Border Patrol Agent

Overview and description of occupation

Ever since I was a young child, I have wanted to be a law enforcement officer. Some of my earliest memories are sitting on the couch with my mother and watching the television shows called Cops and Border Patrol. I grew up in South Texas and am familiar with Border Patrol agents. Living in Corpus Christi all my life afforded me with the opportunity to recognize the negative and positive aspects of patrolling a nation’s border, and the implications immigrants have on our national security, economic stability, and the social structure of our society (Ting 42). Immigrants are needed in our nation. Immigration is what our country is built on, and their skills and labor are needed additions within our labor force. However, it is essential to our national security to secure our borders from the threats of trafficking in humans, drug, and weapons among other terroristic and criminal threats. It is my desire to be a part of our nation’s solution to proper immigration control by having a career as a United States Border Patrol agent. In doing so, I would follow the laws our country has set forth in our constitution regarding immigration, use compassion when allowed, and arrests when necessary. It is my hope to follow this dream into reality.

The United States Border Patrol became an official government entity beginning in 1924 (“Border Patrol History”). Since then, there have been many changes that have supplanted the way the agency is run. One thing that has remained unaltered is the significant values which have helped to shape the agency into what it is today. These values include “honor, professionalism, respect for human life, and integrity” (“Border Patrol History”). The watchmen of our nation’s borders were first organized in 1904 in El Paso, Texas as a small group of men patrolling with the mission to prevent immigration, largely from the Chinese (“Border Patrol History”). What we know of today as Border Patrol agents were then referred to as the Mounted Guards (“Border Patrol History”). However, their services were only rendered important when resources permitted (“Border Patrol History”). The Border Patrol and the national security, provided by securing our borders, were just not a matter of priority in the early years of the 1900s.

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Essentially, the objectives of establishing Border Patrol include ensuring that the United States citizens are adequately safeguarded and protected against threats that could jeopardize national security. The provision for the creation of the U.S. Border Patrol through the enactment of the Labor Appropriations Act of 1924 aimed to ensure that Americans were not only policed within the country’s borders but also comprehensive border security measures were implemented to safeguard against external criminal and terror elements.

Job outlook and salary ranges

The primary role of a Border Patrol agent involves patrolling the border and investigation of any illegal activities that occur within or around the designated border area. The border patrol is responsible for ensuring the integrity of the U.S. borders is preserved, and any incidents of breach are carefully investigated, and appropriate actions are taken. The agents have a critical mission that adds an insulating security layer that prevents any unauthorized and unwanted persons or objects from entering the country (Schroeder 33). In the event of an illegal breach of the U.S. border such as digging unauthorized tunnels across the border and cutting of fences, the Border Patrol agents are required to take appropriate action that includes the elimination of the breach and liaising with security agencies of the neighbor countries.

Cross-border cooperation among border security agencies ensures that incidents of insecurity or breach are dealt with on both sides of the border (Haddal). Moreover, Border Patrol is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS); therefore, agents coordinate with the DHS to ensure that people who get in and out of the country are adequately vetted through background checks (Schroeder 33). Vetting at the border point ensures that criminals, terrorists and illegal immigrants are deterred from getting into the country. Furthermore, it prevents smuggling of contraband across the border which includes drugs and illegal weapons.

The wages and remuneration aspect of Border Patrol integrate a number of features that include competitive pay, health insurance, life insurance, paid time off and a generous retirement. Salaries are not uniform but correspond to an agent’s grade level. Agents can earn up to 25% of their salaries in overtime and locality pay for extra hours beyond the designated 40 hour work week. The career levels that determine the amount of salary paid begin from GL-5 to GL-9, GS-11, and GS-12; as such, salaries range from $52,583 per year for GL-5 level to $97,486 for GS-12 level agents (“Pay and Benefits”).

Skills and education

The qualifications for Border Patrol agents require applicants to be under the age of 40 years and possess federal law enforcement experience or veterans. Applicants are required to possess valid driver license, must be a U.S. citizen or resident, and must pass background checks which may include a polygraph exam and medical examination (“Border Patrol Agent Application Process”). The applicant is required to pass the customs and border patrol exam which is divided into three sections that entail logical reasoning, Spanish language proficiency, and artificial language examination (“Border Patrol Agent Application Process”). College education level is not necessary for one to become a border patrol agent but there may be salary incentives for those who hold higher education levels with at least a bachelor’s degree.

The appointed border patrol interns undergo extensive training in Artesia, New Mexico at the United States Border Patrol Academy. The training process that comprises of courses in nationality law, immigration, operations, and applied authorities (Schroeder 11). The interns who do not speak Spanish require to undertaking 8 weeks Spanish language training. The applicants who fail to pass any of the academic standards which include language proficiency are dismissed from the academy.

The rationale for choosing the major

I chose the career since it appeals to my desire and intent to make active contributions in protecting and safeguarding the country. In addition, my interpersonal and communication skills are excellent; therefore, I am able to interact with diverse people which is critical in the chosen line of work. Furthermore, I have the capacity to assess and interpret volatile situations objectively without losing control or being influenced by emotions. In this respect, I am able to make objective and rational decisions in highly charged environments. My interest in ensuring that there is a safe and secure environment where people can live and work is a key motivator in choosing Border Patrol as a career.

The safety of the country highly depends on the work and the duties of the Border Patrol agents who curb illegal trade such as trafficking in weapons, drugs, and deterrence of criminal elements that threaten the country’s safety. The country had experienced some of the worst terrorist attacks that led to the loss of many lives. This career prevents the occurrences of such incidents through borders protection and implementation of laws to keep illegal substances from entering the country.

Statement on educational and co-curricular activities

It is my goal to complete my college education before applying to join Border Patrol. Graduating from college provides a unique opportunity for career mobility within the chosen organization. Furthermore, I intend to engage in community service especially in multicultural communities. The activity will be critical towards gaining first-hand knowledge and experiences of social and cultural dynamics that define various communities especially migrants. Moreover, I intend to seek an internship at the Customs and Border Patrol offices with the aim of gaining an in-depth understanding of the organizational culture, work dynamics and recurrent challenges that agents face in their work.

Conclusion

The Border Patrol agency is a vital component of DHS that is mandated with safeguarding and protecting the United States borders. The agency prevents unwanted elements such as criminals, drug dealers, terrorists, and contraband from entering the country. The decision to join the agency was informed by the desire to become part of the solution towards protecting the country. Though there are a number of requirements for joining the Border Patrol, I am driven and confident in becoming a competent agent.

 

Works Cited

“Border Patrol Agent Application Process.” U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 23 Nov. 2020, https://www.cbp.gov/careers/frontline-careers/bpa/app-proc.

“Border Patrol History.” U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 21 July 2020, https://www.cbp.gov/border-security/along-us-borders/history.

Haddal, Chad C. “Border Security: The Role of the U. S. Border Patrol.” Federation of American Scientists, 11 August 2010, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/homesec/RL32562.pdf.

“Pay and Benefits.” U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 21 Jan. 2021, https://www.cbp.gov/careers/usbp-pay-and-benefits.

Schroeder, Robert D. “Holding the Line in the 21st Century.” U.S. Customs and Border Protection, https://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Holding%20the%20Line_TRILOGY.pdf. Accessed 26 Feb. 2021.

Ting, Jan C. “Immigration and National Security.” Orbis, vol. 50, no. 1, 2006, pp. 41-52.