U.S.A. Today: A U.S. Border Patrol agent was shot and killed along the Southwestern border last week, marking the second time in as many years that an agent was gunned down along the border with Mexico. The shooting prompted politicians from both parties, including Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, to emphasize the dangers faced by the 20,000 Border Patrol agents and thousands of other law enforcement officers who patrol the border. Records from a police memorial group and the federal government paint a clearer picture of how violent the border truly is. Fourteen Border Patrol agents have died since 2006, and records obtained by USA TODAY show that agents shot and killed 20 people in that time. CONFIRMATION: Napolitano says gang killed border agent in battle
Lt. Jeff Palmer, who founded the Pima County (Ariz.) Sheriff's Office border crime section, said they face armed smugglers, constant assaults by immigrants throwing rocks and a rugged terrain that makes apprehending people, and defending yourself, extremely hard.
"It's a violent, violent place out there, and people are utilizing whatever means they can to avoid apprehension," Palmer said. Christian Ramirez of American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization that tracks border violence, said the blame lies on both sides of the border. Ramirez said smuggling cartels trying to push their goods into the U.S. are clashing with an ever-expanding collection of law enforcement officers on the U.S. side, leaving illegal immigrants simply looking for work caught in the crossfire.