Texas High School Recruits Its Mexican American Students As Border Patrol Agents

by : Hannah Smith on : 01 Feb 2021 18:29
Texas High School Recruits Its Mexican American Students As Border Patrol AgentsSundance Film Festival

A new documentary has revealed how Mexican American teenagers in El Paso, the largest city on the United States’ southern border, are being recruited to become border patrol agents while they’re still in high school.

At The Ready follows students at Horizon High School, about 10 miles north of the US-Mexico border. The school is one of 900 in Texas that offers programs specifically designed to train teenage students for a future career in law enforcement, and focuses in particular on training up recruits to the Customs and Border Patrol agency.


The documentary, from filmmaker Maisie Crow, shows how students at Horizon High are trained in everything from active shooter drills to drug busts, while educators also encourage trainees to think about the politics involved in questions of immigration and border policies.

Texas High School Recruits Its Mexican American Students As Border Patrol AgentsSundance Film Festival/Variety

Many of those enrolled in the programs are first or second generation immigrants themselves, and the documentary also shows how the teenagers and their families grapple with the more controversial aspects of their chosen career path, such as the notorious family separation policy enacted by the Trump administration over the past four years, Variety reports.

Some buy into the idea that law enforcement is protecting communities from the threat of violence from across the border. ‘I think that they go to work for the US to protect us from bad things like cartels, the drugs that enter this country,’ says one recruit’s father. ‘They can save the life of an immigrant that’s not going to make it, that’s dying because of the weather conditions. For me that is good work. That is positive.’

PA Images

Yet others find it hard to square the fact that their children are being recruited to join the very agencies that are responsible for detaining and deporting their families, friends and neighbours.

With a significant proportion of the student recruits in El Paso of Mexican American heritage, it might seem a strange career choice to some viewers, especially in light of the US government’s hardline and often extreme approach to the southern border in recent years. But when you learn that in El Paso law enforcement is one of the main, and indeed only careers where wages – at around $40,000 a year – are roughly equivalent to the national average, it starts to make sense.

Not only that, but a job in law enforcement is a relatively attainable prospect for many high school students, with most positions not requiring a college degree. And with a starting salary of $50,000 for border patrol agents, high schools are setting students on course for a career that, although controversial, is growing increasingly popular.


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Topics: Film and TV, Documentaries, Documentary, El Paso, immigration


The Daily Beast and 1 other
  1. The Daily Beast

    The Texas High School Recruiting Its Mexican American Teens to Be Border Patrol Agents

  2. Variety

    ‘At the Ready’: Exclusive Clip of Sundance Doc on Border Patrol Debate