If you’ve ever driven through the Imperial Valley on your way to Phoenix from San Diego, you know how heavy Border Patrol’s presence is in that area. You are close enough to see the fence that was built in order to stop illegal immigration; close enough to see the water check points that are strategically placed so that those who find themselves wandering through the desert have something to keep them from dehydrating on their journey from country A to country USA; close enough to see the white and green Border Patrol trucks lingering on highway overpasses and off road ditches.
Once you make it past Yuma you will definitely have to drive through a checkpoint—much like US customs but more lax unless you are harboring illegals and/or crack. If you’re lucky, you’ll see the K-9 unit sniffing about and if you are really lucky you will see them ripping apart someone’s vehicle in the hot AZ sun.
I went through these checkpoints for many years carrying busloads of foreigners. The rules are: passports out and please do not take pictures…this is the federal government, not Disneyland. Nine times out of ten the boys will hop on board to check out everyone’s ID. I joked with my clients that the reason they are hopping on is to enjoy the free air conditioning and to look at all of the pretty girls. The agents are always really lovely with everyone and I think that the clients get a kick out if it without truly realizing the importance of the whole ordeal.
On my last time through, I had a client who was sitting up near the front with me as we were approaching the checkpoint. As I’m standing up to get on the microphone to explain “the rules” she turns over to me and asks, “Are the dogs sniffing for Mexicans?” Now that is something I cannot make up.