The killing of a U.S. Border Patrol agent along the Southwestern border last week prompted politicians from both parties to emphasize the dangers faced by the 20,000 Border Patrol agents and thousands of other law enforcement officers who patrol the border, says USA Today. Fourteen Border Patrol agents have died since 2006, and agents shot and killed 20 people in that time.
Lt. Jeff Palmer, who founded the Pima County, Az., Sheriff’s Office border crime section, said border patrollers face armed smugglers, constant assaults by immigrants throwing rocks, and a rugged terrain that makes apprehending people, and defending yourself, extremely hard. “It’s a violent, violent place out there, and people are utilizing whatever means they can to avoid apprehension,” Palmer said. Christian Ramirez of American Friends Service Committee said the blame lies on both sides of the border. He said smuggling cartels trying to push their goods into the U.S. are clashing with an ever-expanding collection of law enforcement officers on the U.S. side, leaving illegal immigrants simply looking for work caught in the crossfire. “Border Patrol responds with more arms, more personnel, and drug cartels respond in kind. It’s a cycle of violence that we need to figure out how to stop,” he said.