TUCSON, Arizona – The U.S. Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector has issued a warning about the dangers undocumented immigrants face when trying to cross the border in the soaring temperatures of the Arizona desert.
“We wish to inform everyone thinking of crossing the border of the dangers and the legal consequences they face,” Andy Adame, spokesman for the Tucson Sector Border Patrol, told Efe.
Temperatures above 105 F are expected during the next few days in southern Arizona, which puts in mortal danger anyone who tries to cross the desert without enough liquids to drink.
“The truth is that there is no water in the desert. There are people who put water out there but the desert is so vast that for any one person to find that water is almost impossible,” the federal agent said.
He said that another constant danger is the risk of being left stranded by people traffickers – better known as “coyotes” – in the middle of the desert.
“When people can no longer walk, coyotes leave them in the desert, because the only thing that matters to them is the money. A person is nothing but property to them,” Adame said.
The spokesman said that many people seeking to cross the desert have no idea of the dangers they face, above all if they suffer from some infirmity that can be made worse by the tremendous physical effort it takes to walk for several days in the heat of the Arizona desert.
Some traffickers give undocumented migrants caffeine pills or energy drinks with the idea that it will help them withstand the rigors of their journey.
“When the person consumes caffeine, he may be more alert for a few hours, but he’ll also suffer more physical wear and tear – the body dehydrates much faster,” Adame said.
Another threat to life and limb are the wild creatures living in the desert like spiders and rattlesnakes.
Since Oct. 1, the Border Patrol’s Borstar rescue team has rescued 161 undocumented aliens, compared with 286 during the same period a year ago.
These figures represent a 40-percent drop in the number of rescues, something that the spokesman attributes to the presence of more Border Patrol agents and the use of the latest technology.
Adame also warned of the legal consequences that the undocumented face once detained.
Detainees are being processed and deported if they have no criminal record in this country, but the expulsion could turn out to be an obstacle for anyone wishing to return legally to the United States sometime in the future.
Previously when an undocumented immigrant was arrested by the Border Patrol, he was repatriated in a matter of hours at one of the entrance points on the Arizona border, providing he or she would sign a voluntary exit document.
But that often turned into a cat-and-mouse game, since many of the undocumented would try to return illegally in a matter of hours.
Now when the undocumented are arrested, they run the risk of facing charges under the federal Streamline program.
The Border Patrol has also established a program of remote deportation, by which undocumented aliens who are arrested in Arizona are repatriated from other states like New Mexico and Texas.