Group offers maps of water stations to border crossers in Mexico
PHOENIX ” A group that maintains water stations for illegal immigrants crossing the desert plans to distribute maps in Mexico warning about the dangers of crossing the border.
Humane Borders plans to post about 100 maps in Altar, Mexico, a popular staging area for immigrants planning on crossing illegally into the United States. The maps will show the locations of water stations, recent deaths and U.S. Border Patrol rescue beacons, said the Rev. Robin Hoover, president of Humane Borders.
The maps include a warning: “Don’t go! There’s not enough water!”
But critics said the maps could give illegal immigrants a false sense of security.
“We know for a fact smugglers are exploiting that, telling people there’s plenty of water, encouraging people to enter in that area, and it really works against us in our deterrence mission,” said Michael Nicley, head of the Border Patrol’s Tucson sector. “However, I don’t have any problems giving a thirsty person water or a hungry person food.”
Hoover said the maps warn immigrants what they are getting into.
“That’s the goal; to inform these people of the dangers,” he said.
But state Rep. Russell Pearce, an outspoken advocate for more deterrence measures against migrants, said Humane Borders is laying out a road map to aid illegal border crossers.
“It may sound humanitarian, but the reality is they simply are promoting illegal activity,” the Mesa Republican said. “It’s a little disappointing.”
Others, however, have praised the efforts of Humane Borders. The group has erected and maintained more than 70 water stations on the U.S. side of the border in an effort to reduce the number of desert deaths.
Changes in U.S. border policy in the 1990s forced a growing number of immigrants into the harsh Arizona desert, which has become the nation’s busiest spot for illegal border crossings.
“Humane Borders is trying to do what is humanly possible to save lives,” said Elias Bermudez, executive director of Phoenix-based Centro de Ayuda. “It is so absurd to think that an organization that is doing things to save lives is encouraging them to come here. People are coming here because there are jobs for them.”
Humane Borders: http://www.humaneborders.org/
U.S. Border Patrol: http://www.customs.gov/xp/cgov/border”security/border”patrol/
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