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Patrolling Border, Sheriff Sees Immigrants' 'Determination'

Each week, Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin brings listeners an unexpected side of the news by talking with someone personally affected by the stories making headlines.

Tony Estrada is the sheriff of Santa Cruz County, Ariz., the poorest of all the border counties in the U.S. There are more than 1,000 Border Patrol Agents stationed in the county, which shares some 50 miles of border with Mexico.

Some parts of that border have a wall with steel barriers. But in rural parts of the county, the border is little more than a fence — in some cases, nothing at all. That makes Arizona vulnerable to a stream of illegal immigrants.

Estrada, who came across the border with his family at age 1, talks to NPR's Rachel Martin about life on this geographic edge. He shares the complexity of immigration in the area and what kind of security issues he deals with.

"I don't want anybody to think that I am for illegal immigration because I think we all agree that people should come across this border legally. But the reality of it is that the majority — or a large number — of the people that are coming across are coming from extreme poverty. They have no paper trail. They have nothing that will ever give them the opportunity to get a visa or a permit."

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