Rapid-action personnel are trained primarily to deal with the worst emigrants who are drowned as they seek to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.
The canal, which runs for miles along the international border, is intended to get water to farmers during the summer months. But as migrants try to cross into the United States, the canal also poses a unique danger—high water levels and a fast-moving current push migrants underwater or sweep them away from land. “You get pushed underneath. You get pushed out,” said Kris Menendez, captain of the El Paso Fire Department water rescue team. “It could mean life or death.”
There’s been eight fatalities within the past week, according to experts, which serves as a warning sign for the months ahead as migrants continue to venture into the flood. Within Saturday and Sunday, three more individuals were found floating in the canal.
US border officials have warned about the dangers of attempting to cross the southern border this time of year, as water rescues continue to outpace those of last fiscal year. The canals are deeper than they appear and often have a significant current and undertow, which poses a threat to migrants attempting to cross into the United States. In recent months, there have been more than 14,000 searches and rescues along the US southern border—up from 12,833 in fiscal year 2021. Border officials are on high alert due to the oppressive desert heat and dangerous waters. This week, CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus warned that extreme conditions make crossing even more risky this time of year.
Human smugglers will continue to carry illegal immigrants into the desert, risking the migrants’ lives for financial gain as temperatures begin to rise during the summer. The area is extreme during the summer, the heat is extremely brutal, and thousands of square miles of desert encompass the strip of land along the Southwest Border.
In the El Paso sector, there were more than 229 injuries from October through May from those falls, ranging from ankle injuries to brain injuries. Agents try to render aid themselves and take migrants to hospitals if necessary. Despite the dangers, migrants still try to cross the US southern border, often to seek refuge. Last month, CBP stopped nearly 240,000 migrants along the US-Mexico border, marking a record high and 2% increase compared with April, according to agency data.
The impact of Title 42
In the wake of the November 2018 court order, Title 42’s restricting ban at the border remains in effect. While the restriction bars migrants from seeking asylum, it’s easy to attempt to cross the border illegally.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency has acknowledged in a recent release that expulsions under Title 42 have contributed to “a higher-than-usual number of migrants making multiple border crossing attempts.” In May, single adults made up most apprehensions, though encounters of families and unaccompanied children increased last month compared with April.
Dylan Corbett, director of the Hope Border Institute in El Paso, told CNN that built-up pressure and anxiety have forced immigrants to make risky decisions. “It is an index, really, of desperation, an index of pain, an index of frustration of not being able to access asylum at our border,” Corbett said.