Patrolling the Border, Pushing Boundaries

When Josh Neimeyer ’05 gets ready for work, he puts on a bulletproof vest and duty belt that includes a 40-caliber handgun, a collapsible baton, pepper spray, a radio and handcuffs.

Neimeyer is a U.S. Border Patrol agent assigned to the San Diego Sector. He is one of the frontline heroes who keep our nation’s borders safe by preventing the entry of dangerous people and capabilities, narcotics and illegal immigrants.

The Border Patrol is one of three uniformed agencies within U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It also has authority to conduct investigations and affect arrests in the inland United States, which is what Neimeyer’s current detail requires.

The athletic 31-year-old’s job requires him to be hyper vigilant due to the fact that his current detail consists of surveillance in dangerous neighborhoods and making entry into houses occupied by gang members. Behind every corner, potential danger lurks. He is trained in martial arts and stays in shape by working out six days a week and running 30 to 40 miles carrying a weighted backpack.  

Neimeyer has been on the Border Patrol’s Target Enforcement Team investigating gang activity for the past two years. He spends about 80 percent of his time investigating gang members with criminal records who are illegal immigrants or Lawfully Admitted Permanent Residents. The remainder of his work time is devoted to field surveillance and arresting subjects.

“I enjoy making discoveries and linking computer analysis to the work in the field,” Neimeyer says. “It’s a very exciting job.”

Neimeyer joined the Border Patrol after graduating from Notre Dame with a bachelor’s degree in pre-law. During his first three years on the job, he patrolled the immediate U.S./Mexican International Border in a mountainous region near Campo, Calif., by foot, truck and ATV. His task: capturing illegal immigrants and preventing drugs and weapons from being smuggled into the U.S.

To prepare for his duties as an agent, Neimeyer trained for five and a half months at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, N.M., as part of the Border Patrol academy. Besides physical exercise and defensive tactics training, he received weapons and driving instruction, studied immigration and nationality law, and learned Spanish. Neimeyer also learned a critical tracking skill called “sign cutting” that has been passed down from 1924 when Native Americans taught the first Border Patrol agents how to track footprints.

Josh NeimeyerPrior to his current assignment, a typical workday for Neimeyer and a partner would include patrolling the border investigating illegal entries of immigrants. This task sometimes involved looking for footprints in the dirt to track north of the border fence.

In one instance, they tracked a group of 23 people for nine hours into a canyon about 10 miles north of the border. 

“It’s a 30 minute climb down and a two-hour climb back up” Neimeyer says. “So once you descend, you’re committed.”

After they caught up with the group of suspected illegal immigrants, Neimeyer and his partner identified themselves to the group and began to apprehend them.

“When you are tracking a group, the scary part is you don’t know if they are just illegal immigrants or armed drug smugglers until you get within eyesight of them,” Neimeyer says. “When you apprehend a group in a desolate area, there are always some people who try to run away in order to avoid capture.”

Neimeyer and his partner managed to apprehend all 23. Their work was not done, however.  They still needed to escort the group to an area where they could be transported by vehicle to a local Border Patrol station for processing. The closest road was several miles behind them at the canyon rim above. On top of that, the group accidentally disturbed a beehive. After 16 hours, Neimeyer ended his workday exhausted and riddled with bee stings. 

Agents in the San Diego Sector work in rugged terrain under a variety of inclement weather conditions, including rain, snow and triple digit temperatures.

“It’s a very challenging job that tests your mental and physical boundaries,” Neimeyer says. “But I wanted to find out what my boundaries were.”

Neimeyer believes the Border Patrol will be his career for the next 25 years. That’s when he will be eligible for retirement. Until then he plans to help keep the country safe by staying vigilant and apprehending many more criminals, drugs and weapons.

E.g., 06/23/19
E.g., 06/23/19