Iraqi migrant trains at US border patrol academy

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Iraqi migrant trains to become US border patrol agent
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Iraqi migrant trains to become US border patrol agent
Border patrol agents stand next to a border fence used for training at the United States Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico, U.S., June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson 
Border patrol trainee Stevany Shakare (2nd L), 23, from Iraq, takes part in a physical training class at the United States Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico, U.S., June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson 
A collage of photos of border patrol agents killed in the line of duty is seen at the United States Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico, U.S., June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson 
Adrian Salayandia, 29, holds up the photo of the Fallen Heroes card he will carry with him throughout his training and career, depicting a border patrol agent killed in the line of duty, at the United States Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico, U.S., June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson 
Border patrol agents listen to a graduation ceremony at the United States Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico, U.S., June 9, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Border patrol agents demonstrate a training exercise with actors playing the roles of migrants at the United States Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico, U.S., June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson 
Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Frank Ayala stands in front of Spanish numbers in a classroom at the United States Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico, U.S., June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson 
Border patrol agents demonstrate a training exercise with actors playing the roles of migrants at the United States Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico, U.S., June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Border patrol trainees learn to process migrants at the United States Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico, U.S., June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Border patrol graduate Luciano Diaz Jr. (C), 23, poses for a photo with his mother, Rubelinda Diaz and father Luciano Diaz after graduating from the United States Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico, U.S., June 9, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson 
Rene Ramirez, 10, whose parents are both border patrol agents, plays with his mother's hat after his father graduated from the United States Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico, U.S., June 9, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson 
A border patrol agent hugs his family after graduating from the United States Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico, U.S., June 9, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A border patrol trainee's gun belt and water bottle is seen on the floor of the gym at the United States Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico, U.S., June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Border patrol agents demonstrate an exercise at the United States Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico, U.S., June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson 
The bullet-proof vest of a border patrol agent is seen at the United States Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico, U.S., June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Frank Ayala points out where migrants are sometimes found on trains at the United States Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico, U.S., June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Border patrol trainee Stevany Shakare (2nd L), 23, from Iraq, eats lunch with other trainees at the United States Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico, U.S., June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson 
Border patrol trainees take part in pistol training at the United States Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico, U.S., June 9, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Border patrol trainees learn how to testify in court at the United States Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico, U.S., June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson 
Border patrol agents conduct an exercise at the United States Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico, U.S., June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A border patrol instructor demonstrates a lifesaving drill at the United States Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico, U.S., June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Border patrol trainee Stevany Shakare, 23, from Iraq, takes part in a physical training class at the United States Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico, U.S., June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A border patrol trainee fills out paperwork at the United States Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico, U.S., June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson 
Border patrol trainee Stevany Shakare (3rd R), 23, from Iraq, takes part in a physical training class at the United States Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico, U.S., June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson 
Border patrol trainee Stevany Shakare, 23, from Iraq, runs during physical training class at the United States Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico, U.S., June 9, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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ARTESIA, N.M., June 21 (Reuters) - At a training facility in the middle of a desert in New Mexico, aspiring border patrol agent Stevany Shakare sprinted laps in 103-degree Fahrenheit weather as her instructors shouted at her to run faster.

Shakare, a 23-year-old from Iraq, is one of three women in a class of 20 at the U.S. Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico. They are powering through an intensive 112-day training program, in which agents must master firearms, high-speed, off-road vehicle chases, immigration law, conversational Spanish and grueling physical tests.

SEE ALSO: Extreme heat grounds flights in Phoenix

They are preparing to track, apprehend and arrest immigrants and drug traffickers attempting to enter the United States illegally.

"I am obviously very short and tiny," said the petite Shakare, surrounded by men who appeared twice her size. "But I'm trying and giving it my all - that's all that matters."

In 2004, at the age of 10, she fled her home after the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Her family settled in Michigan where she graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in criminal justice.

"Had I stayed in Iraq, I probably wouldn't have ended up to where I am today," said Shakare, who said she learned English watching "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," on television.

"Probably wouldn't have gone to college, wouldn't have gotten a degree. I feel like I owe my life to this country," she said.

U.S. President Donald Trump has pledged to crackdown on illegal immigration and strengthen security along U.S. borders, particularly with Mexico. The Department of Homeland Security in February announced plans to add more than 5,000 border enforcement agents to the current force.

Related: See more from border patrol's ongoing work:

Chief Patrol Agent Dan Harris, who runs the academy, said a major increase in violent crime along the southern border in the past year encouraged many to become border patrol agents.

"When I talk to people, I say: 'All of us know someone whose life has been destroyed by drugs - a family member, a friend, a neighbor,'" Harris said. "Every day, men and women want to get out there."

Shakare said she now has the full support of her parents, both of whom plan to watch her graduate in November.

"They weren't OK with it at first. It was the dangers of the job and being away from home. But eventually they realized this is what I wanted to do," Shakare said.

"My mom tells all of her friends, 'This is what my daughter is doing!' She's excited about it."

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