Vignettes from a Former Border Patrol Agent

Parsing Immigration Policy, Episode 98

By Mark Krikorian and Paul Eberle on March 30, 2023

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Listen to "Vignettes from a Former Border Patrol Agent" on Spreaker.


What do Border Patrol agents do in the field? This week’s guest on Parsing Immigration Policy, Paul Eberle, explains just that. Eberle is a former Border Patrol agent and author of Look at the Dirt: The Story of Border Patrol Agents Through Their Own Eyes. His book includes accounts of agents – including himself – from several stations along the southwest border, from the early 1990s to the fall of 2021, when Eberle retired.

Eberle explains his path to becoming an agent, shares stories from his and other Border Patrol agents’ experiences, and provides potential improvements for border enforcement today. Among his suggestions for ways to improve the situation at the border is his opinion that border walls and fences do indeed work. He explains that in addition to deterring illegal crossings altogether, they only allow migrants to cross at points between the barriers, where agents can focus their efforts and more easily apprehend migrants.

In his closing commentary, Mark Krikorian, host of Parsing Immigration Policy and the Center’s executive director, brings attention to Cesar Chavez’s upcoming birthday this Friday, March 31, which is increasingly being celebrated as National Border Control Day. The holiday recognizes Chavez’s commitment to border enforcement. As a labor leader, he understood that easy access to cheap labor from Mexico undermined his efforts to improve wages and working conditions for American agricultural workers.


Mark Krikorian is the Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies.


Paul Eberle is a former Border Patrol Agent.


Book: Look at the Dirt: The Story of Border Patrol Agents Through Their Own Eyes

Cesar Chavez Belonged to a Vanishing Breed: The Pro-Borders Left


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Intro Montage

Voices in the opening montage:

  • Sen. Barack Obama at a 2005 press conference.
  • Sen. John McCain in a 2010 election ad.
  • President Lyndon Johnson, upon signing the 1965 Immigration Act.
  • Booker T. Washington, reading in 1908 from his 1895 Atlanta Exposition speech.
  • Laraine Newman as a "Conehead" on SNL in 1977.
  • Hillary Clinton in a 2003 radio interview.
  • Cesar Chavez in a 1974 interview.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking to reporters in 2019.
  • Prof. George Borjas in a 2016 C-SPAN appearance.
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions in 2008 comments on the Senate floor.
  • Charlton Heston in "Planet of the Apes".