All U.S. Border Patrol agents must undergo a 112-day training program that includes endurance tests, verbal instruction on immigration law and Spanish, off-road, high-speed vehicle chases and master firearms training.
The newest class consists of 17 men and three women, including 23-year-old Stevany Shakare, who was 10 when her family fled their home after the U.S. military invaded Iraq in 2004.
“I am obviously very short and tiny,” said the Shakare. “But I’m trying and giving it my all – that’s all that matters.”
Shakare graduated from Wayne State University in Michigan, where her family settled after arriving in the United States.
“Had I stayed in Iraq, I probably wouldn’t have ended up to where I am today,” Shakare said. She learned English, while watching “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” on TV.
“Probably wouldn’t have gone to college, wouldn’t have got a degree. I feel like I owe my life to this country,” she said.
President Donald Trump pledged to strengthen security along U.S. borders and crackdown on illegal immigration. In February, the Department of Homeland Security unveiled plans to hire an additional 5,000 plus border patrol agents to its force.
The surge in violent crime along the U.S. and Mexico border, primarily the southern border, has prompted many people to become border enforcement agents, Chief Patrol Agent Dan Harris said.
“When I talk to people, I say: ‘All of us know someone whose life has been destroyed by drugs – a family member, a friend, a neighbor,”’ Harris said. “Every day, men and women want to get out of there.”
Shakare said her parents support her career choice, but they understand the challenges she will face as a border patrol agent.
“They weren’t OK with it as first. It was the dangers of the job and being away from home. But eventually they realized this is what I wanted to do,” Shakare said.