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Ladies Luncheon 01 webby Ruth Filz

Monthly, ladies from Palm Gardens RV Park in Harlingen head out in the Valley looking for new places to enjoy lunch and then venture off to visit some of the wonderful attractions the Valley and the island have to offer. In February the group decided to stay in the park and invite the gentlemen to join them for a catered lunch. After lunch, Agent Rudy Rodriguez from the Harlingen Border Patrol Station met with the group to provide background on the Border Patrol, talk about what is happening in the Valley and answer attendees’ questions.

The Harlingen Station was established in 1925, with four officers assigned. The Station was established in Harlingen due to its location in the heart of the farming area. Its area of responsibility encompasses 1,204 square miles and is responsible for 37 miles of river area and covers 34 counties.

The Station is operated by the U.S. Border Patrol, a part of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency. It plays a critical role in securing the U.S.-Mexico border. Border Patrol Stations are responsible for tasks, such as apprehending individuals who attempt to cross the border illegally, preventing smuggling of contraband, and conducting search and rescue operations.

Its jurisdiction encompasses various terrains, including urban areas, agricultural lands, and wilderness. This presents challenges and demands on the agents even with respect to the clothing they wear and how far they can travel in vehicles. They use a combination of manpower, technology, and infrastructure in their job. Agents utilize surveillance equipment, including cameras, drones, and sensors, to monitor remote areas and detect suspicious activities.

The primary mission of the Harlingen Border Patrol Station is to secure the border against illegal crossing and smuggling of contraband, including drugs and human trafficking. Agents are tasked with detecting, deterring and apprehending individuals who attempt to enter the country unlawfully. In the past year, they have seen immigrants coming from over 140 countries. The agents have special phones that help them deal with the various languages they encounter.

Through outreach programs, educational initiatives, and community events, agents work to create positive relationships and address concerns within the community. One of these programs is the Border Patrol Explorer Program. It is a youth development program centered on five areas – career opportunities, leadership experience, life skills, service learning and character education. The main purpose is to educate and involve Rio Grande Valley’s youth in police operations and to interest them in a future career in law enforcement. One of the events the Border Patrol agents do for this program is sponsor career days where they inform students about the importance of staying in school and obtaining a good education while highlighting the career opportunities of becoming a Border agent. They also inform students of the qualifications, educational background, training, Spanish Language proficiency, ethical principles, and determination necessary to become a United States Border Patrol Agent. We were happy to present Agent Rodriguez with a donation from our activities club to help support this initiative.

Everyone thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated Agent Rodriguez’s presentation and felt they left the luncheon knowing more about the Border Patrol and the role they play in the Valley. Although everyone enjoyed sharing lunch and the presentation with the gentlemen, I think the ladies will head out on their own for lunch in March.