With all eyes focused on the U.S.-Mexico border amid the ongoing standoff over the government shutdown, it's easy to lose sight of the agents who patrol the frontier.
A museum dedicated to the history of the U.S. Border Patrol seeks to provide a complex view of a once unknown agency that rose from obscurity to become one of the nation's most powerful arms of law enforcement. The privately funded museum in El Paso — near one of the busiest U.S. ports of entry — attempts to piece together its history as the nation's views on immigration, travel and border security have changed.
Using photos, artifacts, newspaper clippings and even movie posters, the U.S. Border Patrol Museum explores the story from the agency's formation — to fight Chinese immigration and enforce Prohibition — to its current role at a time of massive migration, cartel drug smuggling and political skirmishes.
Museum visitors learn about some of the challenges agents faced over the years, from rudimentary equipment to lack of jurisdiction. Mounted horsemen and poorly assembled vehicles gave way to high-tech helicopters and surveillance accessories as expectations of the agency increased.