U.S. Border Patrol rescue demonstrations show dangers of crossing illegally
The thick brush and relentless heat and humidity combined is daunting for anyone in The Rio Grande Valley - and it’s even more dangerous for migrants who make the journey to cross into the U.S. with help from criminal organizations.
"Since October, our agents have performed over 913 rescues, surpassing last year’s fiscal year figure of 677 rescues,” Joel Martinez, deputy chief of the U.S. Border Patrol RGV Sector said. “We still have three months to go."
Channel Five News was with U.S. Border Patrol agents and their specialized rescue teams at Anzalduas Park near Mission as they demonstrated their efforts to save lives on the border.
The event focused on the dangers of illegal border crossings. The planned event occurred the day after dozens of migrants were found dead in an abandoned tractor trailer near San Antonio.
“Unfortunately, yesterday we saw a cruel example of what these desperate human beings face as they place their lives literally in the hands of criminals who could care less about what happens to them as their commodity,” Martinez said during Tuesday’s event.
The first presentation involved a water rescue where a human smuggler threw a man overboard. A maritime crew rescued the victim within minutes.
“In a real life scenario, we don't know how far our river units are compared to where the incidents are occurring,” U.S. Border Patrol agent Joe Barrios said. “When they do arrive, you're not just dealing with one subject at a time, you're dealing with a whole raft that's overfilled."
Agents often encounter migrants who are injured or in desperate need of medical attention.
When two legs aren’t enough, they use a trained K-9 to find anyone who may have been left behind or separated.
Rescue teams then strap the patient in to a nearby flight medic and air lift them to the closest hospital.
U.S. Border Patrol’s search and rescue team carry out hundreds of rescues throughout the summer.
“Tragically, there have been well over 140 migrant deaths,” Barrios said. “As we enter the summer months, we expect 911 calls from distress migrants to increase."
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