Overwhelmed by desperate migrants and criticised for mistreating the people in their care, many agents have grown defensive, insular and bitter.

One Border Patrol agent in Tucson, Arizona, said he had been called a "sellout" and a "kid killer." In El Paso, Texas, an agent said he and his colleagues in uniform had avoided eating lunch together except at certain "BP friendly" restaurants because "there's always the possibility of them spitting in your food." An agent in Arizona quit last year out of frustration. "Caging people for a nonviolent activity," he said, "started to eat away at me."

For decades,

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