My Journey from Border Patrol Agent to Immigrant Rights Activist

After putting myself through college and graduating at the top of my class, I intended to go to law school and become the civil rights attorney I'd always dreamed about. The only problem with that was that my home life was abusive and I was hiding my sexuality. When a family friend mentioned the U.S. Border Patrol was hiring and they offered to send me to California, I jumped at the chance to become a federal agent. I thought it would be an adventure. It was but not quite in the way I'd anticipated. 

At the Border Patrol academy I was introduced to the brutal culture that has existed in the agency since its inception in 1924. I was sexually assaulted by a male agent and ordered to not press charges. I graduated the academy as did my rapist. I am forever frozen in time in our class picture, a predator and his victim in uniform. I did not understand that this was the Border Patrol rape culture that I and many other women were targeted in. I thought if I could prove myself as a good agent, all of those memories would disappear.

 

Like other agents, I used racist terms for migrants, I enforced our unjust and cruel policies and I violated people's rights on a daily basis. When I resigned in protest because I was ordered to not whistleblow on my drug smuggling boss, I walked away from immigration and my former life because I could, because immigration laws did not affect me as a white woman. 

Years later in 2015, suffering from PTSD from my childhood and from my service as a Senior Patrol Agent, I attempted suicide. This began my journey I am still on today. I forced myself to admit my racism, my privilege and my actions as an agent. Today, I tell the truth about my former agency. I speak about the brutal policies agents enforce, the racism and rape culture embedded deep within it, and I write about my experiences. 

More than anything, I listen. I listen to migrants abused by agents. I listen to other agents abused by agents. I listen to agents traumatized by enforcing inhumane policies. I listen to spouses of agents. I listen to families who have lost loved ones to agents. I listen to those who experience first hand the traumatic results of our deterrence policies. 

I listen.