Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Christopher Jones


The U.S. Southwest Border is associated with highly politicized topics, yet the lived experience of Border Patrol agents is not one of them. Border Patrol agents face risks to their personal safety and security as they attempt to safeguard the national security of the United States while implementing the policies of their organization, which are sometimes at odds with the beliefs and expectations of agents in the field. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore perceptions and lived experiences related to the threats and dangers that Border Patrol agents face as they protect the U.S. Southwest Border. The theoretical framework for this study involved McGregor's organizational behavior theory, Janis's groupthink theory, and the bureaucratic dissonance phenomenon. Data collected through semistructured interviews of 11 former Border Patrol agents with direct experience working along the U.S. Southwest Border were inductively coded and subjected to a thematic analysis procedure. On-duty risks, emotional toll, lack of community support, and separation from family are among the stressors for members of this profession. The key findings regarding threats and dangers included: perceived manpower shortage, fear of assaults, the very nature of the job, political and presidential administration conflicts, and lack of mobility (location and career advancements). The recommendations call for greater policy-and decision-maker understanding of the stresses and conflicts facing Border Patrol agents, which could effect positive social change by encouraging policies and regulations to improve job safety and security, and to inform training programs. The promulgation of the findings may contribute to improvements of the morale and safety of Border Patrol agents and enhance security of the United States.