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Arizona residents feel under siege from Border Patrol agents

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Residents of a small Arizona town complain that they have been invaded by federal forces. The citizens in Bisbee say the government has deployed hundreds of armed and uniformed officials who have created “military-like occupation in their once-sleepy hamlets.”

Millions of dollars have been channeled into infrastructure building a new upgraded U.S. Border Patrol station in Naco, a new fortified and lit up border fence, and high wages for the federal officials. Others have welcomed the build up around the small town and feel safer with federal officials securing the area after a murder of a border agent occurred during a shootout two years ago. Most will agree that the officials should not be invading people’s personal lives. For many people, this place is the only home they have and “I thought we were better off before the Border

Patrol invaded us,” says Annette Walton, a resident of Bisbee. "We were not invaded by the illegals. We were invaded by Border Patrol."

Various residents have differing opinions on the Border Patrol’s presence, but some wonder whether the government is overstepping their boundary when setting up permanent residence in people’s backyards. Dan Oldfield, who has lived in the area for over 30 years, believes these measures are “excessive and a constant nuisance.” He claims the area is safe and he has never felt uneasy about the burglaries that have occurred. Most of the time nothing was stolen but his refrigerator was searched for food. Border agents do not have enough work to fill their days as recent border crossings have fallen significantly in the past few years.

Gary Widner, the Border Patrol deputy agent in charge of the Naco stations responds to these comments by replying that the reason crime has fallen is because of Border Patrol’s presence. "It's because we're here. That's why they've slowed down," Widner said. "If you have no presence in the area, they'll exploit it." Naco has always had Border Patrol presence since the early 1990s, but Border Patrol’s population has more than doubled with the largest amount of human and drug smuggling
arrests. Residents of the area are worried that agents could invade their homes at any time.

The government says the Border Patrol agents are there to protect the citizens and ensure safety against home invasions. Citizens fear that other states will be subject to government intrusions with military personnel settling in their backyards and interfering with their privacy. This is also creating an anti-immigrant environment by the government whereas U.S. citizens claim to not have any problems with immigrants. Questions about whether this will continue as part of the comprehensive
immigration reform are being raised for the president in hopes that Border Patrol will soon be able to leave these small towns.

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