California wilderness migrant rescues up 185%, patrol agent says: report

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There has been a 185% increase in migrant rescues in the Southern California wilderness, according to a U.S. Border Patrol agent.

Hundreds of migrants have attempted to cross into the United States from Mexico in the Imperial Valley — about 100 miles outside San Diego — so far this year, according to border news website Border Report.

Border Patrol’s El Centro Sector is responsible for about 70 miles of international border in the area, according to the Customs and Border Patrol website.

“Currently, we’ve had 240 rescues compared to last year, when we had 84. That’s an increase of 185[%],” Border Patrol Agent John Mendoza told the outlet. “Don’t cross. It’s not worth putting your life in danger. Not only your life, but agents that are performing those rescues.”

A mounted detachment of the U.S. Border Patrol is seen along the wall during U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s visit to the El Centro Sector in Calexico, California, in 2018. REUTERS/Earnie Grafton

The area consists mainly of desert mountain terrain and can exceed temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Deaths are up, too; 31 migrants have died in their attempt to cross the border. Seven of those 31 lost their lives in the All American Canal — a waterway that flows between Mexico and the Imperial Valley area, the outlet reported.

On June 21 alone, El Centro Sector Border Patrol agents rescued 14 undocumented individuals who got lost in the Jacumba Wilderness region of the California mountains, CBP reported at the time. Two days prior, agents rescued a woman from drowning in the All-American Canal.

Mendoza told Border Report that all of the victims had several things in common: They were “ill-prepared,” and had a “lack of water, no proper attire like clothing or shoes, maybe they didn’t know they were going to be dealing with waterways, maybe they didn’t know how to swim,” he said.

The border patrol agent pointed to smugglers as part of the issue, saying, “They don’t care about the migrants, focusing on profits instead.”

“They couldn’t care less about the people’s lives — the people they are putting across the border,” he said.

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