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US-Mexico Borders: Stop Chasing Migrants to Death

There is a serious problem going on in the Sonoran Desert, at the Mexican-American border. Due to extra reinforcements at traditional urban (illegal) entry points, such as San Diego and El Paso, people are being forced into the deserts now to make the crossings. One human rights volunteer said, "The Border Patrol, as planned, went on to push them into the deserts, where the risk increased exponentially." And we are seeing record numbers of dead from this. For the last 5 years, we have seen a 261-mile-long stretch of the Sonoran Desert in Arizona become the most deadly immigrant entry point. The ground in the Sonoran Desert can reach 130 degrees before June. August, the most deadly month to cross, is coming up next month. Although most people start this trek across the desert with only two gallons of water, they actually need a gallon of water just to survive walking five miles in 100 degree heat. One of the illegal entry paths entails a 50 mile walk on ancient trails in the desert. Many people walk for days in 100+ degree heat to try to enter the US illegally. This year, before the start of the worst season, 4 undocumented immigrants have died in New Mexico of heat exposure, and more than 72 have died in Arizona. More undocumented immigrants have died this year in the border crossing than ever before. Last year's numbers also broke records.
US-Mexico Borders: Stop Chasing Migrants to Death

By Kirsten Anderberg (www.kirstenanderberg.com)

There is a serious problem going on in the Sonoran Desert, at the Mexican-American border. Due to extra reinforcements at traditional urban (illegal) entry points, such as San Diego and El Paso, people are being forced into the deserts now to make the crossings. One human rights volunteer said, "The Border Patrol, as planned, went on to push them into the deserts, where the risk increased exponentially." And we are seeing record numbers of dead from this. For the last 5 years, we have seen a 261-mile-long stretch of the Sonoran Desert in Arizona become the most deadly immigrant entry point. The ground in the Sonoran Desert can reach 130 degrees before June. August, the most deadly month to cross, is coming up next month. Although most people start this trek across the desert with only two gallons of water, they actually need a gallon of water just to survive walking five miles in 100 degree heat. One of the illegal entry paths entails a 50 mile walk on ancient trails in the desert. Many people walk for days in 100+ degree heat to try to enter the US illegally. This year, before the start of the worst season, 4 undocumented immigrants have died in New Mexico of heat exposure, and more than 72 have died in Arizona. More undocumented immigrants have died this year in the border crossing than ever before. Last year’s numbers also broke records.

Several groups are actively trying to help save lives by setting up water stations for the undocumented immigrants in the desert. A group called Border Angels ( communities.signonsandiego.com/borderangels ), was founded by Enrique Morones in 2001. It is a non-profit group that has installed and maintained 340 water stations throughout the Imperial Valley Desert and surrounding areas. Volunteers keep the water stations supplied with water through spring and summer. In winter and fall, the group has established stations in the San Diego Mountains, with winter clothing, food and water in winter storage bins. Border Angels need donations for water, flag material, gasoline, winter clothing, and more. Can you help them save lives today?

Paisanos al Rescate, or “countrymen to the rescue,? is another organization involved in getting water to undocumented immigrants crossing the Mexican-American border. Created by Armando Alarcon, with missions beginning in June 2004, this group drops bottled water from Cessna planes. The bottles are dropped in bubble wrap, topped with a small parachute, from a brightly colored plane. There is no law against dropping things from planes, such as water bottles, as long as it does not cause property damage or bodily injury. The bottles have a message telling the immigrants to wave their hands above their heads if they needed to be rescued, and below their waist if they do not. Unfortunately, Paisanos al Rescate do not rescue the immigrants, they call the border patrol, which I find to be problematic. Alarcon said he thought of using the planes to drop water during one of his first flight lessons. He said he looked down, and realized what could be done. Alarcon was born in Mexico and raised in Texas.

Another group called Humane Borders, dispensed approximately 9,300 gallons of water in their approximately 111 survival stations between Mar 2001 and August 2002. It is not clear if this group is still functioning, but their site offers some interesting goals. One of their stated goals is to provide hospitality to those crossing the border. They say that providing water in the desert will not increase undocumented migration, or more clearly, “People do not cross the border to obtain water.? They state that their deployment of water to the desert is in response to “the immoral policies and strategies that put people at risk.? They ask for the following policy changes: 1) legalization of the undocumented worker as was done in 1986, 2) incorporate a responsible guest worker program with visas so workers are not tied to one industry or boss, and 3) demilitarize the borders, among other things.

Most people who die crossing the border, die from heatstroke and dehydration. Last year, 409 immigrants died trying to make it across, which is 7 times the death toll in 1995, according to the Mexican Foreign Ministry. In response to the rise in deaths from the desert entry, Mexico has agreed to participate in a repatriation plan, announced by the Department of Homeland Security in July 2004. Mexico says it will provide free flights back to Mexico for illegal Mexican immigrants arrested in Arizona, beginning July 12, 2004 and ending no later than Sept 30, 2004. The planes take the immigrants to either Mexico City or Guadalajara, where they are supposedly bused back to their home towns. Those who live in Northern Mexico were supposedly going to be given “other options? yet those have not been detailed. The US and Mexican governments purposely chose the deep interior of Mexico for the flight destinations to discourage quick turnarounds at illegal attempts to reenter the states. And indeed, many do refuse the plane rides, asking instead to be taken to the closest border town, to try to reenter again. The cost of the plane trips, approximately $13 million, will be paid by the United States. Last year’s repatriation program transferred 6,000 Mexicans from Arizona and Texas border towns, but mayors of cities on the Mexican side, said migrants were dumped with no money for food or bus tickets home in their towns. (Stay tuned for a follow-up article focused solely on the Border Angels, including an interview with its founder, Enrique Morones, within the next few weeks at www.kirstenanderberg.com).

Link: communities.signonsandiego.com/borderangels
 
 


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Re: US-Mexico Borders: Stop Chasing Migrants to Death

To begin there is a big difference between Migrants and ileagles or maby not in your distorted deffition. Bottom line you can say all you want but we are a nation of laws. The first and formost is to protect our borders from anybody crossing our [USA] borders by running through and across the line. Nobody is chasing anybody to death. This is a choice that each makes that invade and break our laws by choosing not to enter by our leagle and border check points. Anybody or organization as you speak of in this artical that tries to assist them are nothing but criminals of the state them selves.I along with Millions and millions of Americans do not fell sorry for people that choose to commit criminal acts by crossing ileagley and putting there own safty in jeaporty. Again nobody is chasing anbody to death. It is there own choice. They know in advance what there in for. [JUST TURN AROUND AND GO BACK AND USE THE PROPER CHANELS]. Instead the Mexican Goverment gives them maps and all kinds of support. If anybody is to blame it is the Mexican Goverment and people like you and your organization who promot this kind of ileagle activity. It's been to many years. The time is now for us to protect our country [USA].Hopefully by peacefull means, but if not at this point in time our Constition says that we have the right as AMERICAN citizens to line up and just say NO MORE......... Mike M....
 

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