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Border Patrol warns migrants of desert dangers

Urging migrants not to attempt a crossing
Posted at 7:23 PM, May 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-09 22:23:05-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - The desert can be a death trap for immigrants---especially in the summer heat -- in Southern Arizona.

Now Border Patrol is trying to dissuade people from trying the trip---and preparing to rescue people the conditions overcome.

The group seem like it crossed the border illegally. What appears to be a coyote---a people smuggler--- leads them on a five day ordeal through the desert heat.

But that trek through the desert is really a simulation put on by the Border Patrol to make a point about how dangerous a desert crossing can be.

Media crews follow Border Patrol Agents playing the role of the migrants. They bypass a rescue beacon like one of 34 set in the region to summon help for people who just can't go on.

It would normally be three to five days before they reach a road. In this simulation there's no water or rest before they're forced into a suffocating box truck.

One woman is separated for human trafficking, and forced into a car trunk. She's ejected in a rollover wreck.

Agents say the simulation is a fair depiction of the rough reality migrants face when they risk a desert crossing.

It's just part of the message Tucson Sector Chief Roy Villareal says Border Patrol is sending into Central America to reach potential immigrants before they leave their homes in the tropics---unprepared for the desert.

"Both as videos, as corridas (songs) that we play on the radio stations, posters and the biggest element we recognize is word of mouth. Everybody communicates with family and they talk about whether they're going to venture to the United States, what that venture may be and the dangers of it."

Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier sees Border Patrol as coping with a humanitarian crisis.

“We know since March of last year 80 percent of the time that my department calls Border Patrol for assistance it's at the request of a migrant that's lost and distressed in the desert."

Officials from Guatemala and El Salvador consulates are helping Border Patrol spread the word of the dangers. Most of the current immigrants arriving and requesting asylum are from those countries.

Deputy Mexican Consul enrique Gomez Montiel had his own warning.

"They might think they might have already walked two thousand miles to the border and there's only forty or forty five miles to walk until they reach their destination in the United States; but those last miles are the most dangerous and the most lethal ones."

Carmen Bermudez, the honorary Consul for Costa Rica says she worries about neighboring countries but Costa Rica has been prosperous and peaceful with residents not eager to move to the U.S.

She thinks U.S. companies should give Guatemalans and Salvadorans good reasons to stay home.

"If Amazon, for instance, would have the people in Guatemala in a factory making boxes, that's just an example, making boxes something that doesn't require a lot of education, that would be a starter."

But for now, Border Patrol says its rescue teams are ready to find people who risked too much in a desert crossing.