Updated: 5:22 p.m. Thursday, July 12, 2007 | Posted: 4:40 p.m. Thursday, July 12, 2007
Mecklenburg County Sheriff Has New Perspective After Visit With Border Patrol
CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
When U.S. Border Patrol officials invited Mecklenburg County Sheriff Jim Pendergraph to visit San Diego this week, the sheriff jumped at the chance, knowing Charlotte is a hot destination for illegal immigrants.
"I think few American citizens know what's going on everyday," he said.
Pendergraph grabbed his camera and followed border patrol agents for three days as they patrolled a rugged 60-mile stretch.
"On the other side of that fence over there is Mexico, Tijuana, there's over three-million people there," he said while sifting through the photos.
Pendergraph's camera captured an endless cycle of daily arrests. At the border checkpoint, he photographed cars waiting hours to get into the United States.
Some were carrying drugs.
"When they took the tires out, they were full of drugs," he said, showing a photograph.
He saw other cars used to smuggle people.
"That was one of the kids that was hidden in the dashboard," he explained.
The trip gave Pendergraph a new perspective.
“My overall impression of this, after seeing this, is that our country is under assault everyday," he said.
The sheriff said he wasn't surprised to hear many illegal immigrants found in California were carrying North Carolina driver's licenses.
"North Carolina is a desirable place to be because of the ease of getting employment," he said.
Border patrol officials told the sheriff that until the border is fully secured, they need him and others in the country to do their part -- something Mecklenburg County is already doing by deporting illegal immigrants arrested here.
"They were amazed at what was going on in Mecklenburg County," Pendergraph said proudly.