More U.S.-Mexico Border Violence Makes Agents Nervous


At the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Artesia, N.M., 200 miles from the Mexican border, new border patrol agents take lessons on the use of lethal force. It’s a part of border security that has been a bone of contention between agents in the field and top managers, reports the Christian Science Monitor. “A lot of agents on the border right now feel a heightened sense of anxiety because of the increase in violence,” says David Shirk, director of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego. They “are encountering heavily armed and very dangerous criminals. and they may be a little more trigger-happy.”

At the center of the storm are two border patrol agents in west Texas who, in January, began serving prison time for shooting and wounding a drug smuggler as he fled toward Mexico and then covering up evidence. Their case has become a cause célèbre for ardent proponents of a border crackdown, conservative bloggers, and some members of Congress. T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, the union that represents 11,000 nonsupervisory personnel, says that the case of a border patrol agent in Arizona, charged in April with the first-degree murder of a Mexican national, has the potential to intensify agents’ misgivings. Says Bonner: ” ‘If I fire at this guy, am I going to have the backing of the guys above me?’ That split second can mean the difference between life and death.”


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