A new program aimed at saving the lives of lost migrants recorded its first saves this week. The program places unique signs at key locations instructing lost migrants to call 911 for assistance. The calls help Border Patrol agents save time in the rescue and apprehension of those lost.
Border Patrol officials in the Rio Grande Valley Sector reported their first lives saved from a program launched recently where signs are placed on ranches where migrants are frequently abandoned by smugglers without food or water. The signs instruct the lost to call 911 for assistance when they are in distress. The signs also are numbered. The number allows agents to quickly learn the exact coordinates of the sign and quickly move in to rescue and apprehend the illegal immigrants, according to Rio Grande Valley Sector officials.
Two Honduran migrants became the first to be rescued under the new program on July 31, officials stated. The Honduran brothers, ages 25 and 27, became lost on a ranch in Brooks County after being abandoned by human smugglers with no food or water. The 100-degree heat during the day had taken its toll on the brothers and they realized they were in trouble. Nighttime temperatures were still well into the 90s when the duo came across one of the new signs. One of the brothers called 911, as advised by the sign, and requested help.
The 911 dispatcher looked up the sign’s location with the number provided and quickly contacted Falfurrias Station Border Patrol agents to rescue the two men. Because of the information contained on the sign, the agents were able to find the two men within an hour of the call for help. Agents provided water to the two Honduran nationals and determined they needed no further medical assistance.
The agents transported the two illegal immigrants to the Falfurrias Station for processing.
“These are exactly the sorts of stories we were hoping to be able to tell when we started posting these signs last month,” Chief Patrol Agent Manuel Padilla, Jr. said in a written statement. “We’re placing the signs almost as fast as we can get them made, and we have a lot of ground yet to cover, but this is certainly an encouraging start.”
Migrants frequently become lost in Brooks County as cartel-connected human smugglers attempt to march them around the Falfurrias Border Patrol Checkpoint located there. When a migrant becomes injured, dehydrated, weak, or otherwise unable to keep up with he group, the smugglers will simply abandon them without food or water. This results in numerous deaths in this county. Brooks County, located 80 miles from the Mexican border in South Texas, frequently leads the nation in the number of deceased migrants.
This year, the deaths of illegal immigrants in this county are up by 23 percent over last year, Brooks County Sheriff Benny Martinez told Breitbart Texas on Wednesday.
“We have recovered the bodies or skeletal remains of 34 people this year who died in our county after being abandoned by these ruthless human smugglers,” the sheriff said.
The Missing Migrant Project reports that 202 died after illegally entering the U.S. this year. The increasing rate of migrant deaths is quickly approaching record-setting levels. During the same period last year, 219 migrants’ remains had been recovered — 214 in 2016. This compared to only 104 in 2015 and 87 in 2014.
Border Patrol officials said these signs are important because other countries use different emergency call numbers. In Honduras, where these two brothers came from, residents have three different emergency numbers (195 or 378654 for EMS, 198 for fire, and 119 for police).
The signs also reduce the time required to prosecute rescue operations and reduce the need for the expense for helicopter aircrew support.