RealNews

Hunters and saviors: From isolated camps, border agents try to find crossers, keep them alive

Peering into the darkness with a handheld infrared camera, the agent scans jagged rocks and flatland searching for the ghostly white images of people sneaking across, many of them ill-prepared for one of the most dangerous landscapes on the border. The night before, a $60,000 night-vision camera helped the agent guide his co-workers to a group of illegal entrants walking up a brush-covered wash about 35 miles north of the border and 150 miles west of Tucson. But tonight, a hilltop vigil by the agent, the Border Patrol’s Abe Mendoza, yields nothing but an hour’s digging after his Jeep sinks into a pit of “moon dust.” Fine silty sand disintegrates into powder from the traffic on the few roads that crisscross this volcanic land of creosote and cactus. Mendoza is one of six Border Patrol agents living at Bates Well camp in Growler Pass, about 25 miles south of Ajo. Working round-the-clock in 12-hour-shifts for up to two weeks at a time, the agents patrol a thousand square miles of desert. They sleep in shifts on bunks in two air-conditioned travel trailers, cook meals outdoors on a propane grill and on occasion use one agent’s laptop to watch a movie. Full Story

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