On a typical day, you might encounter Matthew Huffman asking for your passport as he inspects travelers flying in and out of the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Today, more than 200 miles away from his normal duties, he’s holding a three-year-old Ecuadorian boy as he takes a nap and uses his shoulder as a pillow.
Huffman is one of more than 100 Customs and Border Protection officers assigned to Yuma Sector for a 60-day detail. He was sent here from his normal duty assignment at LAX to help the Border Patrol with the influx of migrant traffic crossing the border into the United States.
Officers like Huffman help Yuma Sector by providing security in the soft-sided temporary processing facility, assigning migrants to appropriate areas within the facility while they wait to be processed, organizing and storing migrant property, fingerprinting migrants, assisting with paperwork and completing case files. In addition, a few officers who speak fluent Portuguese have also provided translation services.
“They have a great attitude, and they are very helpful,” said Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Brian White. “They do all of these jobs that make a huge difference.”
White said they generally help with whatever needs to be done. Today, a scared little boy needed someone to look after him, which is exactly what Huffman did. The boy entered the U.S. with a family member who was not his parent or legal guardian, so he was processed as an unaccompanied child under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act.
“All the participants with this detail are currently assigned to airport and seaport environments,” said Mark Kim, a supervisory CBP officer from Portland. “Most of us have never before worked alongside Border Patrol agents. Better yet, we have never worked at a US-Mexico land border. I feel very proud and honored to work alongside Border Patrol agents here and witness firsthand what BP agents do every day to protect the border.”
In addition to CBP officers, Yuma Sector is also receiving support from the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army, Army National Guard, a volunteer force comprised of other DHS employees and Border Patrol agents from the Spokane, Havre and Grand Forks Sectors.
“The difference all of these detailers have made is immeasurable,” said Yuma Sector Chief Patrol Agent Chris T. Clem. “Not only have they performed admirably, but their contributions also enable us to keep more agents in the field to secure our border.”