Pressure Point

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Such sniping over border issues is blossoming into the latest political dust-up between McCain and DeConcini, who enjoy a less-than-collegial relationship.

For his part, DeConcini is angry and defensive at the suggestion that he has become politically impotent. Asked to comment on Celley's slap, he tartly replies that he "doesn't want to get into a pissing match with McCain," but then proceeds to do exactly that.

"John McCain has never added anything to our border," DeConcini says. "Everything that has gotten done down there, that's my doing. I'm just glad he didn't try to kill funding for what we did get."
@body:To Border Patrol agents on the Nogales line, the political infighting in the carpeted salons of Washington, D.C., seems a million miles away. To them, reality is the daily grind of rounding up as many aliens as they can--while hoping that a wild-eyed kid with a rock, or a gun-toting smuggler they may encounter behind a patch of juniper on the dark desert floor, won't make them a casualty of the border wars.

There isn't much time to think. But in the occasional slow moment, at least one agent confesses to pondering the grim absurdity of life on the Arizona line.

"Sometimes I wonder, if I get killed doing this, what is my family going to say I died for?" he says. "To keep one out of five illegal immigrants out of the country?

"Why are conditions allowed to be so bad here? Why do people like [Janet] Reno let it go on?

"I thought we were all supposed to be on the same team.

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Darrin Hostetler