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Beyond the Fence: A behind-the-scenes look at the work of the Border Patrol

The vastness and difficult terrain of this area makes it imperative that Border Patrol be supplied with the latest equipment and infrastructure.

SAN DIEGO — Every day, the agency responsible for securing the US/Mexico border apprehends those trying to cross into the United States illegally. From the Pacific Ocean to rugged mountain ranges and to the blazing desert - the San Diego Sector covers 60 miles of border. The vastness and difficult terrain of this area make it imperative that Border Patrol be supplied with the latest equipment and infrastructure to fight illegal immigration. 

"The all-weather roads that were created as part of the border infrastructure system also provide for the rapid response of agents and other emergency medical services when lives are on the line," says CBP Deputy Chief Scott Garrett

While the latest technology has been a game-changer for Border Patrol, this is a job that only gets done by having boots on the ground. Around 6:00 a.m. Wednesday, I accompanied Border Patrol and members of the local media on a hike through the mountains, used by migrants daring enough to brave the rugged terrain and harsh conditions.

The hike could be brutal, a steep incline with loose rocks, no defined trail which means you run into thorny bushes, but it was obvious that many had been through the area, empty water bottles littered the ground throughout the hike.

"It's obviously very arduous. There's animals, rattlesnakes, spiders, bugs, all that good stuff," says Agent Jeff Stephenson. "If you look behind us, there's fog. So at night and even during the day, in the early morning fog rolls in, it's easy to get lost."

These hills are like Agents Juan Torres and Jeff Stephenson's backyard. They’ve patrolled this area on foot for years and they’re here to outwit the coyotes, smugglers who are paid huge sums of money to get people across the border by any means necessary.  

"They're just looking for profit and power. Don't really care about the lives of the people that they're crossing," says Torres 

"When you find somebody out here who's deceased, when you come across a body, that's pretty, pretty awful. Somebody brought them out here and left them for dead. And that's pretty sad."  says Stephenson 

Ultimately, Border Patrol says their mission is to preserve human life. And after walking these remote trails, I could see just how dangerous this area could be. Especially in the dark, or in the blistering heat.


Watch Related: Border Patrol agents will wear body cameras starting this fall

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