There Are Exactly Two Things Border Patrol Agents Should Be Doing Right Now

Photo: John Moore (Getty)

On Sunday, the New York Times published a story detailing all of the ways that the Trump administration’s all-out war on migrants and undocumented people is affecting the real victims: Border Patrol agents themselves. Apparently, throwing people into cages for the crime of being in the United States isn’t so great for morale.

From the story:

The Border Patrol, whose agents have gone from having one of the most obscure jobs in law enforcement to one of the most hated, is suffering a crisis in both mission and morale. Earlier this year, the disclosure of a private Facebook group where agents posted sexist and callous references to migrants and the politicians who support them reinforced the perception that agents often view the vulnerable people in their care with frustration and contempt.

Interviews with 25 current and former agents in Texas, California and Arizona — some conducted on the condition of anonymity so the agents could speak more candidly — paint a portrait of an agency in a political and operational quagmire. Overwhelmed through the spring and early summer by desperate migrants, many agents have grown defensive, insular and bitter.

[...]

“To have gone from where people didn’t know much about us to where people actively hate us, it’s difficult,” said Chris Harris, who was an agent for 21 years and a Border Patrol union official until he retired in June 2018. “There’s no doubt morale has been poor in the past, and it’s abysmal now. I know a lot of guys just want to leave.”

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Luckily, there are two things that Border Patrol agents can do right away that could help boost morale almost immediately.

1. Quit

Some Border Patrol agents the Times spoke with have already begun to do this, including one who quit in Arizona because “Caging people for a nonviolent activity started to eat away at me.” Good! That kind of thing should eat away at you, if you have any sense of humanity.

The concept behind quitting is simple: because you’re no longer working for the agency that’s making it hell to go to work every day, your morale should markedly improve fairly quickly. Sure, some of that might be offset by the anxiety of finding a new job, but at least you aren’t going to be a foot soldier for a fascism anymore. That’s gotta count for something, right?

The main drawback of simply quitting is that for all of the personal satisfaction quitting might bring, one fewer Border Patrol agent isn’t exactly going to change what’s happening on the ground from day to day. So if your opposition is more political in nature, there’s a second, albeit more difficult option.

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2. Strike

If Border Patrol agents went on a work stoppage and demanded that the government changed its policies towards migrants, it would break the Trump administration’s back on the issue and maybe even earn the Border Patrol some respect from people in the community. At the very least, fewer people would probably spit in their food, as one agent alleged is “always a possibility.”

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Organizing a strike would be might be nearly impossible, when you consider the kind of person who wants to be a Border Patrol agent—especially at a time like this. On the other hand, a successful work stoppage could go a long way towards making fundamental changes in the agency and American immigration policy as a whole.

So there you go. If you’re a Border Patrol agent who wants a better work environment or whatever, those are your two options: quit or go on strike. The reason that neither involves doing the job is—get this—the problem is the job itself.

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