Video: Border battle

msnbc.com
updated 3/30/2006 3:46:09 PM ET 2006-03-30T20:46:09

On the eve of a crucial summit between the U.S. and Mexico, the debate over how to secure our borders is more heated than ever.  LIVE AND DIRECT went to one of the most treacherous spots along the border to see what agents there are doing to stop potentially deadly criminals, including terrorists, from sneaking into our country.

RITA COSBY, HOST, "LIVE AND DIRECT": Yuma, Arizona, may look like any other sleepy American farming community, but take a closer look at these crop fields and tranquil waterways and you'll soon realize this place is anything but sleepy.  Sitting right on the borders of Arizona, Mexico and California, many view Yuma as ground zero for America's war on terrorism, the fight for domestic security and against illegal immigration.  It's also one of the most dangerous places in America.  The brave 800 men and women are tasked with securing probably the most volatile 125 miles of border territory in America. 

ROY VILLAREAL, ASSISTANT CHIEF PATROL AGENT:  As we have gained operational control here in Yuma sector, the level of violence directed at our agents has increased.  Smugglers becoming frustrated as we're able to shut off their entry points, causing them to react to our enforcement strategy.  They have reacted with violence.

VILLAREAL:  This includes shooting at officers, throwing rocks at our offices, driving their vehicles and ramming into our officers.  For officers, performing their jobs comes with the reality that they face being injured, in some cases and very unfortunately possibly killed doing their jobs. 

Our principal goal is preventing weapons of mass destruction and terrorists from entering our country.  Along with that comes with the aspect of smuggling, both humans and narcotics. 

COSBY:  Believe it or not, agents in Yuma apprehended more than 138,000 illegal immigrants, drug smugglers, and foreign nationals trying to infiltrate our border last year alone. 

What U.S. border agent Michael Gramly showed our crew, in just 48 hours, was quite shocking.  A busload of over 40 illegal immigrants caught just moments ago in the desert arrives via bus at the Yuma border detention center, where they're searched for weapons and narcotics. 

The facility is basically designed to hold approximately 500 subjects until they can be processed.  It's not only young men being apprehended but young children, women, and entire families.  Most jump the border fence in search of a better life. 

Ten percent of the people detained end up having some sort of criminal warrant.  The vast majority are loaded back onto a bus and sent back to Mexico, disappointed they got caught and desperate to do almost anything to try again. 

Watch 'Rita Cosby Live & Direct' each night at 9 p.m. ET on MSNBC.

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