President Robert introduced our two speakers this day as Andrew Andrus and Kimberly Kristoff, two Border Patrol agents currently working out of the Indio Station.  Their topic was “U.S. BORDER PATROL OVERALL MISSION”.  Matt has served for over 10 years at the Indio Station and Kim has served 11 years at the Indio Station.  They are of the station’s Strategic Planning and Operations Team.

The Indio Station was established prior to 1936. It was primarily intended as a back-up station for the El Centro Sector and also for the purpose of checking all farms and ranches in the Coachella Valley. Entry of the United States into World War II resulted in the Valley playing an important role for food production during this period and severe manpower shortage was alleviated by the use of alien labor, both legal and illegal; therefore, it was imperative that the station concentrate its efforts on checking farms and ranches in the Valley and prevent the departure of illegal aliens who might want to move further north.
 
With the completion of the All-American Canal system, an abundant water supply transformed the Coachella Valley's former arid desert area into the extremely productive ranch and farmland it is today, which greatly increased the workload of the station. When control of the border was accomplished during "Operation Wetback", emphasis was then diverted from farm and ranch check to transportation check.
 
Today, the Indio Border Patrol Station is responsible for patrolling the northern portion of the Imperial County and southern portion of Riverside County; an area totaling approximately 10,800 square miles and is staffed with only 160 personnel. Matt and Kim shared with us that their primary duty was manning the two check points on Highways 86 and 111 and that the Coachella Valley was the #1 corridor for smuggling both humans and drugs into the United States.  In one week they apprehended 412 illegal aliens (242 of which were immediately deportable), 2 persons of special interest (terrorist) and 8 Criminal Aliens!  Currently there are 500 Aliens a day coming through Blythe (Yuma Sector Station) and sadly it is estimated that they catch less than 10% of all aliens and drugs being trafficked across our southern border.
 
Matt and Kim answered several questions from our members and we learned that the cartels are everywhere, definitely here in the Coachella Valley, that the current Customs and Border Patrol agencies are woefully understaffed and that yes, a wall is not the ultimate solution, but it sure would help in a lot of places!  Matt and Kim made an excellent and eye opening presentation and we let them know how proud of them we are and wanted them to know that as Rotarians and members of our community that “We’ve Got Their Back!”  To learn more about the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency please go to their website at www.CBP.gov/.