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    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    With hottest weather still ahead, Border Patrol rescues up 80 percent

    Posted: Friday, July 10, 2015 7:10 pm

    LORENZO ZAZUETA-CASTRO | STAFF WRITER

    FALFURRIAS — Inside the Cage Ranch a few miles from the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint along U.S. 281, a rescue beacon with English, Spanish and Chinese captions reads “If you need help push the red button, help will arrive, do not leave the area.”

    Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley sector since October have recorded 81 deaths of people suspected of being in the country illegally — already an 8 percent increase over fiscal year 2014, which recorded 75 deaths, Border Patrol Sector Chief Raul Ortiz said.

    Ortiz, along with Latin American consular officials and local ranchers Friday were on hand at the Falfurrias checkpoint to bring awareness to the dangers that migrants face when they attempt to traverse the remote areas.

    The Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue Unit, or BORSTAR — a group of agents who are also emergency medical technicians that provide emergency care to immigrants who become hurt or dehydrated — have rescued 477 people compared to 263 the year before, an 80 percent year-over-year increase.

    Ortiz said the majority of the deaths they’ve seen have occurred near the border along the river.

    “We’ve seen an increase in rescues — the amount of deaths also has increased but most of those deaths occur in and along the immediate border area and those are drowning,” Ortiz said. “We’ve seen a reduction in deaths in these remote ranches, we’re not finding as many human remains because the weather has been mild. We’ve had a lot of rain and it hasn’t been as hot.”

    But Ortiz said with temperatures rising this month, that could change.

    Guatemalan consul Allan Perez, along with consular officials from Honduras and Mexico are working with Border Patrol agents on a media campaign aimed at deterring people from making the perilous trek through South Texas.

    On the grounds of Cage Ranch, a mix of brush and sandy soil, agents identified water stations and the rescue beacons where immigrants can rest and signal for help.

    Eddie Canales, director of the South Texas Human Rights Center, a community-based organization working to cut the death rate throughout the region, said his group is working with Border Patrol to set up water stations in other remote areas similar to Cage Ranch.

    “It’s a good work in progress. In the last month or so there’s been some significant progress made.” Canales said.

    http://www.themonitor.com/news/local...94e59331d.html
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