EAGLE PASS, Texas — The U.S. Border Patrol’s Del Rio Sector held a press conference to discuss the Border Safety Initiative here, April 18. The focus of the press conference was to educate the public on the potential dangers of crossing the border in the hopes of preventing future undocumented immigrant deaths and how Border Patrol personnel are involved in rescuing those in danger.
Also addressed during the press conference was the deployment of National Guard personnel to the Del Rio area.
“Though we are immensely proud of the life-saving elements that our agents employ on a daily basis in the Del Rio Sector, our hope is to get the message out that crossing the border is extremely hazardous,” said Del Rio Sector Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Matthew J. Hudak. “The expected gain of coming to the United States is not worth any one person’s life.”
There were 10 different media outlets from the United States and Mexico, as well as Mexican and Guatemalan Consular officials in attendance. Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Willie Rodriguez explained that Del Rio Sector personnel made 99 rescues in fiscal year 2017, which is more than triple the amount from 2016. Unfortunately, there were 18 migrant deaths in 2017, matching a five-year high.
“Apart from the physical and environmental hazards potential migrants face, they also are subject to abuse and life-threatening abandonment by unscrupulous smuggling organizations,” added SBPA Rodriguez.
On display for gathered media were agents from Del Rio Sector’s Border Search, Trauma, and Rescue Team (BORSTAR), Emergency Medical Technicians, marine units, horse patrol agents, CBP Office of Field Operations personnel, and helicopters from both CBP’s Air and Marine Operations, as well as the local Air Evac Lifeteam©. Reporters were given the opportunity to speak to these agents and view the special equipment and training they utilize to aid distressed migrants and public on a daily basis.
Jose Castro, the Deputy Patrol Agent in Charge of the Eagle Pass South Station also spoke to reporters about the National Guard deployment in the Del Rio Sector. As the Sector Liaison for Operation Guardian Support, DPAIC Castro relayed that approximately 100 soldiers will be deployed throughout the sector this week. “They will serve in support roles, such as administration and training to allow for more Border Patrol agents to return to patrol,” he said. He further explained that they will not be armed or engage in enforcement operations in the field.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.