Illegal immigration first started becoming a problem in Little Rock and the surrounding areas during the 1950’s. During this time there was a construction and agricultural boom that attracted undocumented workers from Mexico to the area in search of work. To combat the massive influx of illegal immigrants, the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency established the Little Rock border station as the headquarters for border patrol operations and U.S. Customs careers in the state of Arkansas. Similar border stations were created in nearby parts of the country for the same reason.
Before the Little Rock station was established, border patrol agents were responsible for monitoring a gigantic swath of land that spanned five states. During the 1950’s, border patrol agents managed to capture more than 1,000 illegal immigrants per year, which was more than enough reason to keep the station open- even during tough economic times. The primary jobs undocumented workers were getting was work in the numerous cotton fields that surround the region, which at that time, was the largest crop in the entire United States of America.
Duties Performed by Agents in Little Rock
The Little Rock station monitors an area that spans a 100 mile radius around the city, and works with border patrol agents in the monitoring of the western portion of the state of Tennessee. Training requirements prepare border patrol agents to be able to perform the tasks that have become routine in the Little Rock area.
City Patrols: These border patrol jobs in the area are responsible for monitoring suspicious activity in the city that can be attributed to drug smuggling, illegal immigration and other activities that would concern the border.
Transportation Checks: Occasionally, agents in Little Rock will set-up traffic checkpoints in order to verify immigration statuses of people driving along major highways and shipping routes near the city
Anti-Smuggling Activities: These border patrol jobs require agents to inspect suspicious cargo and vehicles, as well as perform community outreach and coordinate with local law enforcement. The main thoroughfares in the area are Interstates 30 and 40.
Farm and Ranch Checks: The farms and ranches in the area are still known to hire migrant farm workers and ranch hands without checking if they have the proper documents in order to work legally in the country. Thus, many border patrol agents are assigned the duty of inspecting the farms and ranches in the area and verifying the documentation of the workers. Cotton fields are still a major source of employment in the region.