Border Patrol celebrates 90th birthday
90 years ago, Congress passed the Labor Appropriation Act. The year was 1924 and the Border Patrol was born. They started with all of 450 agents; now, there are more than 21,000 as the agency’s role in protecting America’s borders has increased decade by decade, and not without sacrifice.
“… Robert Grocious, 2009; Trena McGlaughlin, end of watch 2009; …”
The ceremony at the San Diego sector’s Chula Vista headquarters included more than one acknowledgement of the 21 agents who’ve lost their lives as part of the Border Patrol. The Patrol’s history in San Diego includes some seriously turbulent times – the late 80’s into the mid-90’s in particular. It was a war zone. There weren’t nearly enouagentsnts, and those that were weunder-equippedped: vehicles were driven until the wheels fell off. Deputy Chief Rodney Scott was a rookie agent back then, raised in Indiana, his first assignment San Diego.
“My first days on the job, (I) had to confront 500 to a 100 people running at you at a time. That area is now a factory outlet center, houses at the time. We had 30 agents in the Imperial Beach sector on a daily basis.”
The pictures from San Diego went national; it became a huge political issue. The Clinton administration took note with Operation Gatekeeper in 1994. Many more agents – seemingly overnight – and modern high-tech equipment. Illegal entries were reduced by some 75%. 9/11 brought a new challenge:
“Illegal immigration is always the hot topic, but our mission is border security – smuggling guns or cash – that’s our primary role.”
A role that began 90 years ago.