El Paso, Texas - The El Paso, Texas sector of the U.S. Border Patrol and the Consulate General of Mexico are working together with a goal of protecting human life. Representatives from both agencies met along the Rio Grande this morning to discuss the Border Safety Initiative and remind the public that the Rio Grande, adjacent irrigation canals and remote desert areas pose significant danger. The agencies hope that their educational outreach efforts will continue to raise awareness of the dangers posed by swift moving water and inhospitable desert climates.
Along with remarks by agency personnel, the event included a live bi-national swift-water rescue demonstration to include the El Paso Sector Swift-Water Rescue Team and the Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue (BORSTAR) team. Working in cooperation with the Consulate General of Mexico and the El Paso Sector Border Patrol's International Liaison Unit and other law enforcement, this bilateral cooperation is aimed at reducing deaths and injuries of migrants or any persons entering the swift moving canals and those attempting to enter the country illegally through the desert.
The safety initiative was launched in 1998 as a proactive binational strategy to reduce injuries, prevent fatalities, and ultimately make the border region safer. Under the initiative, the Border Patrol has taken several steps in warning migrants of the dangers of entering the country illegally. Those include the production and distribution of public service announcements such as "No Mas Cruces en Las Fronteras" and the "Migra Corridos". The announcements show and warn of the dangers of crossing the canals and deserts. The PSA's also aim to warn individuals about the dangers they face in placing their lives in the hands of smugglers.
This ongoing effort has significantly reduced the number of rescues and deaths recorded in the El Paso Sector over the last five years. During fiscal year 2005 28 people perished in the desert and waterways in the El Paso Sector. By FY 2009, that number dropped to five. Rescues also fell considerably from 105 incidents involving 486 people in FY 2005 to 15 incidents involving 22 people last year. The right mix in messaging, personnel, technology and infrastructure are responsible for the decrease in border deaths. The Border Safety Initiative is aimed at providing a safer and more secure environment for all border communities.
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.