El Paso, Texas - The CBP U.S. Border Patrol El Paso Sector, alongside local law enforcement agencies, including the El Paso Fire Department (EPFD), collaborated with the Government of Mexico (GoM) and hosted a Border Safety Initiative (BSI) Campaign Monday, June 4.
The goal of this year's BSI campaign is to raise awareness in border communities of the dangers posed by the swift moving water canal systems, and the extremely dangerous desert terrains-with the hope of preserving human life. The BSI kick off took place near the Rio Grande levee that is adjacent to the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) headquarters, located at the United States and Mexico international boundary.
This multi-agency event highlighted the bilateral agreement between the El Paso Sector Border Patrol's International Liaison Unit (ILU), Instituto Nacional Migratorio (INAMI), the Consulate General of Mexico, and other local law enforcement entities that exists in an effort to reach out to surrounding communities of both countries-warning of the dangers along the border area.
Personnel from the CBP U.S. Border Patrol, INAMI and EPFD reaffirmed their commitment to public safety as they addressed attendees at the event. Educating the public of the dangers of entering swift-moving waters or navigating though the desert areas for either recreational purposes or for those attempting to enter the country illegally was the focus for all parties. Demonstrations for this event also included a swift-water demonstration by the U.S. Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue (BORSTAR) team and participants had the opportunity to take a short hike along a trail used by migrants to enter the U.S. illegally.
Since 1998, the BSI's bi-national strategy has made diligent efforts to reduce and warn migrants of injuries, fatalities, and ensure the safety along the border region. Under BSI, Customs and Border Protection has produced and distributed several public service announcements, (PSAs) such as "No Mas Cruces en Las Fronteras," "Migra Corridos," "No Te Engañes" and "No Trafiques Vidas." This year's message illustrated the dangers of crossing the border where the risks of injuries, mortality or falling under the prey of smugglers are always present.
Rescues and deaths of people encountered along the border region by the El Paso Sector Border Patrol have significantly dropped over the past five years. In fiscal year (FY) 2006 a total of 33 people perished in the desert and waterways along the 268 linear border miles of the El Paso Sector. In FY 2011, that number dropped to just six deaths. Rescues also fell considerably from 190 incidents involving 504 people in FY 2006, to 13 incidents involving 20 people last fiscal year.
The success of the BSI program represents the standards and goals towards a safer and more secure environment for all people in our border communities.