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A Border Patrol Glossary ACTIVE DUTY AND retired agents say ‘lithe slang terms listed below are com monly used by Border Patrol personnel. Wet: Short for “wetback,” an undocumented Mexican immigrant. Other derogatory terms for immigrants include “tonk” the sound an officer’s baton reportedly makes when it strikes the head of an illegal immigrant; “Messkin;” and ” Mojado, the Spanish term for “wet.” Ethnic slurs are officially banned by the agency. Southbounder: An undocumented immigrant spotted returning to Mexico and usually ignored by U.S. immigration authorities. But some Border Patrol agents say they, too, are rounded up whenever apprehension figures need to be inflated. Neck: Short for “redneck” agents who exhibit anti-Mexican prejudices. A “neck supervisor tells racist jokes, or is associated with blocking promotion of Hispanic agents. Texas Ring: An Anglo old-boy network of supervisors inside the Border Patrol accused by Hispanic agents of racism and cronyism in handing out promotions. The ring allegedly had its own insignia a rattlesnake in front of a Texas flag its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s, before Hispanic agents began to be hired en-masse. Also known as the “Texas Mafia.” Scab shift: Agents who volunteer for extra duty between regular shifts, allegedly in order to fulfill arrest quotas and pack detention centers with illegal immigrants. The Border Patrol says the shifts are an efficient use of manpower. P.S. ALAN POGUE Rafters illegally crossing the Rio Grande toward El Paso pantyhose or taping them to their paunches, the Times’ volunteers set out to capture responses at Border Patrol headquarters, INS checkpoints and Customs bridge crossings. The complaints were always legitimate. The questions were polite and neutral. And the results were tragicomic. In half of the dozen encounters, the federal organizations didn’t enforce their own complaint regulations. Irregularities marred fully half of the eight taped conversation with the INS. The agency’s behavior ranged from bafflement at proper complaint procedures to outright bullying \(“0Kjefe,” one white-shirted agent sneered, “I think we got a problem here. He wants to make a BIG complaint. Against YOU! You offs \(one INS bridge inspector icily instructed a volunteer to take his complaints to the Three taped conversations with the Border Patrol recorded bureaucratic confusion and dissembling. On two occasions, Border Patrol supervisors simply took down information on blank sheets of paper and advised the volunteers they would be contacted. One volunteer a legal resident who later sued the agency for allegedly manhandling him dur ing an arrest never heard from the agency again. Customs was taped only once. The inspector was solicitous, but Customs’ much-touted bilingual flyers outlining the complaints process weren’t visible at any border checkpoint. Two voices stood out on the hours of tapes. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9