EL PASO, TX – Extreme temperatures experienced along the SW Border, and dangers from area waterways have become major concerns for area Border Patrol Agents, as evidenced by recent rescues of undocumented immigrants and calls for help along the borderland in west Texas and New Mexico.
Agents were recently called to assist several individuals that found themselves in danger from extreme temperatures as evidenced on June 21 as night vision technology near the Ysleta Port of Entry detected six subjects running north into the United States from the Rio Grande River. Agents learned that three of the subjects jumped over the levee fence utilizing a ladder and into the adjoining canal, with two of the female subjects visibly in distress due to fast and treacherous currents.
One of the subjects made it out and was attended to by agents. The two remaining subjects were swept away by the currents for approximately 300 yards, and were pulled underwater several times. With little time to act due to undertows, Agents entered the canal without hesitation in an effort to save the female subjects. Agents successfully reached both persons and rescued them from the canal.
The El Paso Emergency Medical Services/Fire and Rescue were dispatched to the area and both females were transported to a local hospital for evaluation. Both females were determined to be sisters and were treated for minor injuries, but otherwise in good health. The three other subjects in the original group were seen running back into Mexico, and are thought to be smugglers.
The following day, Agents from El Paso were tasked once again with the challenge of a rescue. In midday heat, Agents were conducting swift-water rescue training when they discovered that a male was endangered who had entered the American Canal east of the Bridge of the Americas Port of Entry. Agents acted quickly to save the individual from the treacherous canal by utilizing a rescue rope to extract the male subject. The man later said he swallowed large amounts of water during his struggle after being rescued and transported to a local hospital for further evaluation. The man will remain in hospital care where doctors are monitoring his condition.
Later that afternoon, it was Border Patrol Agents from Las Cruces’ turn to respond to distressed persons. A call came in from the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office requesting assistance in locating three individuals who were in distress due to the extreme heat. Agents immediately responded seven miles south of Hatch, New Mexico. After several hours and an extensive search, agents finally were able to locate those missing, including a professor from a local university and two students. provided medical assistance to them, as one of the students was severely dehydrated, while the professor and the other student showed signs of heat exhaustion. The group had been taking soil samples when the heat took a toll on them. The student displayed symptoms of dehydration and was transported to the local hospital in Las Cruces, while the professor and her student were transported from the area without further incident.
Agents are becoming increasingly concerned about the welfare of area residents due to heat conditions and current dangers from area waterways in the border region. The U.S. Border Patrol’s ability to respond quickly and without hesitation is making a difference in the life and death of those being affected.
To date, this fiscal year, El Paso Sector has conducted 15 rescues and successfully prevented the loss of life of 27 individuals.