Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Dying in the desert in Maricopa County, Arizona

Graves of migrants in Sonoran Desert/Photo Brenda Norrell

In one of the hottest desert regions in the US, migrants continue to die of dehydration, in an area where US Border Patrol agents have failed to respond to calls for help.

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
July 17, 2013

The fact that the US Border Patrol is leaving  migrants to die in the desert south of Phoenix was exposed in the e-mails of Arizona police. Arizona police said the US Border Patrol based in Why, Arizona, was failing to respond to migrants dying of dehydration in the desert.

Now, two years later, migrants continue to die in Maricopa County, south of Phoenix, reports Frontera NorteSur. The latest victims include three Indigenous brothers from Guerrero, Mexico. The brothers  were 15, 18 and 24 years old.

"The deaths of three young men in the Arizona desert last month have prompted Mexican non-governmental organizations to renew demands for actions and changes from the Mexican and U.S. governments. In a statement signed by scores of human rights, migrant, labor, civic, and faith-based organizations, the groups demanded meaningful policy shifts at a time when current U.S. legislative proposals for tighter security amount to a 'virtual state of war on the border.'”

"The call followed the June deaths of the Plutarco de Jesus brothers in Maricopa County, Arizona. According to the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center of the Mountain, a longtime advocacy organization based in Tlapa, Guerrero, 24-year-old Inocencio Plutarco de Jesus was working as a farm laborer in Sonora when he invited his younger brothers, 18-year-old Macario and 15-year-old Humberto, to accompany him to the U.S. The brothers were from Cuanacaxtitlan, Guerrero, a small indigenous community in the Costa Chica region of the southern state," according to the article 'Outrage follows deaths in Arizona,'

The following e-mails by Arizona police exposed the US Border Patrol's failure to respond to migrants in distress. Censored News first published these in July of 2011, after the e-mails were exposed by hackers.

Arizona police said they are frustrated with the delays of US Border Patrol agents who fail to respond to calls, when migrants are in distress in the desert where temperatures range from 110 to 117 degrees. The Arizona police e-mails point out the delays from agents in Why, Arizona, on the Tohono Oodham border, north of Lukeville, a region with the highest number of migrant deaths from dehydration.

“We do not have the manpower to sit and wait for Border Patrol,” one Arizona officer said.

Here are three internal police e-mails from 2010, made public by hackers. The e-mails refer to ETA (expected time of arrival) of USBP (US Border Patrol) and the delayed response to UDA (undocumented aliens.)

“Major, as you can see from this e-mail, Area 6 is having a significant problem with pedestrian UDAs. My thoughts are as follows:

If, in the course of their duties, officers are dispatched or come across individuals either flagging traffic down or walking along the interstate and they seem distressed or unprepared to face the extreme heat of the desert, I would prefer they be transported to an area where water, shade, etc. is readily accessible/available if USBP cannot respond or has a lengthy/delayed response.”

Another police e-mail in 2010 states:

“Our situation with UDA's is unique here in Area 6. We have been getting a high volume of calls lately for pedestrians and or UDA's in the area if the Maricopa-Pinal County line. Some days we will get as many as 6-7 calls a day. I know our policy is we do not detain and transport UDA's to BP but here is our problem:

Most of the time BP's response is from Why or they don't have anyone available. If they are able to respond from Why their ETA could be 11/2 hours or more. Now that the temperature is over 110 I am not comfortable with just checking on them, advising BP and leaving them out there.  On the other hand, we simply do not have the manpower to sit and wait for BP.

I suppose what I asking for is some guidance and clarification, can we transport them to BP when they basically give up or do we check welfare and if they are not in need of EMS just leave them out there?

My thoughts are if they seek us out we should assist them and not leave them stranded 15-25 miles from water and food. Our actions need to pass the headline test but more importantly we need to treat them humanely.  Please advise as soon as possible as this is a daily occurrence.”

In another Arizona police e-mail in 2010:

“I concur with both of your thoughts on how to manage this problem. If we have a distressed pedestrian, regardless of origin, we have a humanitarian responsibility to act for their safety. And if that requires that we transport them to a Border Patrol checkpoint or facility or to another location where we can remove them from the heat, I believe we will meet both the headline and humanity tests.

In situations where BP will not respond or has an extreme extended eta, I see no problem with transporting them to the check-point or the nearest BP station if the situation requires it.  We would transport any other citizen in need to the nearest place of refuge, so I think we should do the same in these circumstances.”

The Arizona police data exposed in 2011 includes a report on the testimony in Washington regarding Border Patrol agents charged in drug smuggling and corruption cases of aiding drug cartels to smuggle drugs into the US.

On June 9, Alan Bersin, commissioner of Customs and Border Patrol, testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery and Intergovernmental Affairs.

Bersin said, “Since 2004 in October, 127 CBP personnel have been arrested, charged or convicted of corruption.”

Charles Edwards, the acting Inspector General for the Dept. of Homeland Security, testified before the committee that there are 267 active corruption-related investigations underway of Customs and
Border Patrol personnel.

The hacked e-mails were exposed during three releases of data during June of 2011, labeled “Chinga La Migra,” by Antisec, Anonymous and Lulzsec.

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