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Latino Daily News

Wednesday January 5, 2011

Buoys Placed Across Canal to Prevent Death of Border Crossers

Buoys Placed Across Canal to Prevent Death of Border Crossers

Photo: buoys are canal crossing

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

Trying to prevent drownings along a U.S. border canal that hugs the U.S.-Mexico border, a government agency has now placed buoys they hope will save lives.

After the show “60 Minutes” (CBS) aired a report making them look indifferent, if not callous, the agency debated over what the effects of lifesaving buoys in the All-American canal would be. On one hand, it appears unacceptable to do nothing while you know people are dying trying to cross, but on the other hand, they wondered if the buoys would encourage immigrants to try to cross.

Decomposing bodies have long been found floating in the California canal’s water, which moves anywhere from 25 to 30 mph. More than 500 people have drowned in the canal since the waterway was built in 1942, 12 in 2009 alone. The canal was intended to provide water to California’s Imperial Valley.

“The agency began installing buoy lines every half-mile along a 23-mile concrete-lined portion of the canal in September, each one with 30 orange balls. The lines will be a mile apart along the 59-mile earthen section by March. The concrete section is more dangerous because water moves faster there,” said Fox News.

The buoys themselves were controversial, but so too was their placement. Many wanted them to be placed at 45 degree angles and pointed downstream toward Mexico so that if someone grabbed on, the currents would push them away from the U.S. and back to Mexico. However, that idea was dropped for fear of being even more deadly for those determined to get across. The lines, one mile apart, and containing 30 orange buoys each, are instead being placed straight across.

Despite beliefs that America holds a better future for them, some still say it’s not worth the risk. Maria Contreras knows just how deadly the canal can be. Last year, the Mexicali resident lost her son to the waters of the canal.

“Don’t do it,” Contreras said. “It’s very sad to lose a child. You can’t get over it. All those dreams are cut short.”

All she had to identify her son – his body was badly decomposed – was an earring stud and some other jewelry.