The U.S. Border Patrol, in coordination with the Mexican government, this week is launching a campaign to prevent the deaths of immigrants along the mutual border and to alert them to the dangerous currents in the irrigation canal in El Paso.
The campaign seeks to warn both the border communities as well as those in the Mexican interior of the danger in crossing the border during the hot season, when temperatures in the desert are intolerable and water is released from the dams into the canals, creating faster currents along those waterways.
The “Border Safety Initiative” will include television and radio messages on media outlets along the frontier as well as in Mexican communities with high levels of migration.
Some of these messages will have slogans such as “Don’t cross the borders anymore,” “Don’t fool yourself,” “Don’t traffic in lives” and a norteño ballad named “Migra corrido” has even been recorded and distributed to radio stations in the Mexican interior.
This year the message emphasizes the dangers migrants run by placing their lives in the hands of so-called “coyotes” (immigrant traffickers) who sometimes abandon them in the desert.
A young undocumented immigrant staying in a shelter in El Paso told Efe that his crossing through the Arizona desert was very tough.
“(The coyote) took us walking for eight days through the (Arizona) desert, and we had nothing to protect ourselves from the sun, since all the plants were covered with spines. We saw human remains during the trip,” the migrant said.
The Guatemalan boy said that when the coyote abandoned them he got lost and decided to look for immigration agents to turn himself in because he thought he was going to die and “end up like the bones” he saw in the desert.
The young man said that one of the other risks are the attackers who operate in the Mexican sector of the border who steal the belongings of migrants who are just about to cross into the United States.
The rescues and the deaths that have occurred in the El Paso sector of the border have declined considerably in the past five years, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, figures show.
Jacobo Nuñez, a border Border Patrol agent, said that this reduction has been due to the information campaign and the warnings that have been issued each year since 1998.
During Fiscal Year 2006, in the El Paso border sector, which extends for 268 miles, 33 people are known to have lost their lives, while only six people died in 2011.
Meanwhile, Humberto Uranga, a representative of the National Immigration Institute in Mexico’s Chihuahua state, said that about 6,000 rescues are conducted each year on the U.S. side of the border.