Missing Migrant Program Expands Life-Saving Efforts Across 4200 Square Miles in the Rio Grande Valley
EDINBURG, Texas – The United States Border Patrol launches an initiative to assist migrants lost during their trek through the Rio Grande Valley. The initiative will place over 1,000 signs in the areas vast and desolate ranchlands.
The United States Border Patrol’s Missing Migrant Program (MMP) continues to innovate and improve upon methodologies not only to identify the remains of people who have lost their lives on a perilous trip north, but also to protect and save the lives of individuals who run into trouble in the sweltering heat of the Rio Grande Valley(RGV). All too often, immigrants find themselves lost, dehydrated, and overheated in the inhospitable ranchlands common throughout Brooks, Kenedy, Kleberg, and Willacy Counties. They call 911 for help, but do not know their location and the current E911 system is unable to narrow the search area enough for potential rescuers to search effectively. The lost immigrants oftentimes make their way to landmarks like cell towers and windmills, in hopes of finding something denoting their location, but their hopes are often dashed when there are no identifying markings to tell them where they are.
The MMP’s RGV Location Marker Project initiative involves the placement of more than 1,200 signs on high-visibility landmarks throughout South Texas. Those signs bear simple and easy-to-understand instructions to call 911 and give the sign’s unique number to the emergency dispatcher. The emergency call centers have been provided a precise GPS location that corresponds with the sign number, allowing for far quicker responses by rescuers. The signs will be deployed to the field as soon as soon as they are fabricated.
“Saving lives is at the forefront of every Border Patrol Agent’s mind,” said Chief Patrol Agent Manuel Padilla, Jr. “We sometimes attempt multiple rescues in a day, so if we can shorten the duration of the search because of these signs and reach people in minutes instead of hours, we stand a much better chance of accomplishing our mission of safeguarding human life.”
The Rio Grande Valley Sector currently has multiple campaigns focused on rescues and danger awareness, such as “Operation Big Rig” and “No Se Arriesgue” to combat smuggling and ultimately save lives. Call 911 to report suspicious activity; “They’re humans, not cargo!”