Life as a Mexican American on the Border Patrol: ‘The system is not broken’

12/12/2016  The Guardian 

A small fence separates densely populated Tijuana, Mexico, right, from the United States in the Border Patrol’s San Diego Sector.  Construction is underway to extend a secondary fence over the top of this hill and eventually to the Pacific Ocean.
A small fence separates densely populated Tijuana, Mexico, right, from the United States in the Border Patrol’s San Diego Sector. Construction is underway to extend a secondary fence over the top of this hill and eventually to the Pacific Ocean.

Vicente Paco was born in Mexico and while in school, he learned about how United States marines invaded Mexico, slaughtered Mexicans and annexed Mexican territory. Their green uniform was so hated, it allegedly produced the term gringo – “green go”.

Paco now wears the green of a US Border Patrol agent in a desert that used to be Mexican. He also does everything he can to stop Mexicans, and others, from illegally entering the US. In the economic and political logic of today’s border, this makes complete sense.

“Look. That’s where they slid down,” said Paco, indicating hand marks on the 18ft rusting steel fence separating the Arizona town of Nogales from the Mexican city of Nogales. “If they make it into town they try to blend in with the local population, but the fence often rips their clothing and leaves rust on their hands. That’s what we look for.”

Paco, 35, trim and fit, has a 4×4 vehicle with a green stripe plus a gun, Taser, knife, handcuffs, binoculars and radio connecting him with 4,000 colleagues who control the 262-mile stretch of border in the Tucson sector.

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