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Friday, June 9, 2023

PERSPECTIVE: Southern Border Crisis Is Hurting Border Patrol Families

On July 20, my husband and I celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary, and this anniversary could not have been due to the supposed manufactured crisis on our southern border. My husband is a United Stated Border Patrol supervisory agent. Two weeks ago, I got the phone call I had been fearing since our relationship began. My husband was going to the hospital because he thought he was having a heart attack. In a matter of seconds, my world was flipped upside down as our children, ages 2 and 4, and I were five hours south of him, visiting with my parents. I couldn’t do anything; I knew nothing and I felt lost. Then there was a second phone call from my husband: “Honey, they are flying me over to San Antonio. Apparently, I am having a heart attack.” Well, then panic really set in and I lost it. I told him that I refused to do life without him and that if I wanted to be a single mom, I would have had kids 10 years earlier when I was younger and had more energy. He tried to reassure me that everything was going to be OK but, by then, my mind was racing, the tears were flowing and I was not thinking straight.

Upon arriving in San Antonio, my husband went through many tests, blood draws and was hooked up to monitors. While all of this was happening, I threw clothing together for myself and the kids and my mom packed a bag as well. Within the hour, we were all loaded up and driving as fast as we safely could to be with him. This was the first time in our six years together that I saw one of the strongest men I have ever known broken.

My husband loves his job. He loves what he does and he does it with honor, integrity, and passion. He follows the laws and does what he needs to, not only to protect his fellow Americans but those who have come to our country illegally to seek a better life. Neither of us are opposed to those who to want to better their lives, but there are rules and laws by which all Americans must abide. There are also laws and rules by which those coming to our country must abide.

As the granddaughter of an illegal immigrant who was granted asylum, I know firsthand what privileges I have due to my grandfather making a choice to come to the United Stated from Matamoros, Mexico, in the 1940s. In the 1980s, my grandfather became a United Stated citizen but prior to that he worked hard every day to support his family and he was not about to accept handouts. How many of the people coming today feel the same? He worked his way up from the bottom to create a very successful home construction business. So, I have seen firsthand the benefits of living in the country and understand the desire of many to want to come here.

But at what cost? As stated earlier, it could have been at the cost of my husband’s life. After four days in the hospital and numerous tests, blood draws and procedures, my husband was diagnosed with myocarditis. Myocarditis is caused by a virus that causes inflammation of the heart muscle, creating symptoms similar to a heart attack. In severe cases, it can lead to death. The doctors treating my husband believe he was exposed to the virus at work. I cannot even imagine what my life would be like without my husband, nor can I imagine how I would feel knowing this could have been prevented if the individuals who were elected to represented the people of the United Stated would help do something about it. The situation that our agents are facing is unmeasurable.

As a wife, I see the sadness in my husband’s face, wishing he could do more or had more resources to help. As a wife, I see my husband’s face as he is verbally spat upon for doing his job with the resources he has been given. Many members of our elected bodies have no understanding of what it feels like to be the spouse of a Border Patrol agent. They don’t understand the fear that they may not return home at the end of their shift. Imagine the self-doubt and stress they feel every time they turn on the television or social media and are being accused of committing horrendous acts, like those committed against the Jewish people in World War II. Incendiary comments like these are making good men and women leave their jobs because their families, moms, dads, or children are being harassed due to their employment. Do you think any of this may have contributed to my husband’s illness?

I have written this to express how deeply saddened and appalled I am that our elected officials would rather verbally assault, and encourage others to do the same, good men and women for doing their jobs, a job they have chosen to do and do with honor. There are bad people in all professions, but the vast majority of the men and women of the United States Border Patrol are honorable; they do their job with the mission to protect others before themselves. They do their job knowing they may not come home to their families. They do their job because this is what they have chosen to do. They deserve to be treated with respect for doing it, because, if it were an easy job then everyone would be doing it. As an educator, I tell my students I have worked hard to get to where I am in my profession and encourage them to pursue their dreams no matter what they may be but to always do it with honor and integrity.

I am sorry, but I do not believe some of our elected officials are doing their jobs with honor and integrity. Watching the news, I’m not sure they are doing their jobs at all! Set the example, do what I encourage my students to do. If you want change, create it. You cannot do it by walking over others to get it done. Does change need to happen at our southern border? Yes, beyond a shadow of a doubt. As a person who has lived on a southern border all her life, yes, change needs to happen. But spouting lies and insults will never get it done. Words are powerful; as they say, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Let’s use our words, our power, to create positive change, not to devalue a group of people for doing a job and upholding our current laws.

The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by Homeland Security Today, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints in support of securing our homeland. To submit a piece for consideration, email [email protected]. Our editorial guidelines can be found here.

Nicholas Nilan
Nicholas Nilan is the Director of Product Development for Public Sector at Verizon. He is responsible for the development and deployment lifecycle of innovative and mission impacting products and solutions for Federal, State and Local, and Education customers. Previously, he led Federal Marketing strategy at Verizon, and before that, engineering teams supporting mobility and Internet of Things deployments in the Department of Defense. He has been in the telecommunications industry for over 15 years and holds an MBA in Finance and Accounting from Regis University and an undergraduate degree in Political Science from York College of Pennsylvania. Additionally, he is on the Board of Directors for the Public Safety Technology Alliance and the Board of Directors and the Chair of the Emerging Technology Working Group for AFCEA DC.

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