In recent years the dangers involved in attempting to illegally cross the border from Mexico to the United States have been highlighted in the media. Because of the fact that much of the border terrain is extremely hostile, including large swaths of desert, many would-be immigrants become victims of the elements as they attempt to enter the U.S.
More disturbing is a recent trend that has seen numerous child immigrants, mostly from countries south of Mexico, attempting to enter into the United States without the aid of adults. Sadly, many of these young immigrants also fall victim to the elements, most frequently dying of thirst. In order to address the issue, the U.S. Border Patrol is deploying 22 rescue beacons that can be activated by those in distress.
Border Patrol officials recently gave a demonstration of how its rescue beacons can help people who find themselves in life threatening emergencies, such as becoming dehydrated or injured, while crossing the border from Mexico to the United States. The 30 foot tall beacons, feature blue lights that are visible for up to 10 miles, and rely on solar power. A sign is placed on each of the beacons that gives instructions on how to activate the emergency response devices in three different languages.
According to Border Patrol officials, response times will vary from as little as 10 minutes to as much as 1 hour, depending on how close agents are located to the beacon when it is activated.
In fiscal year 2013 Border Patrol agents found 194 bodies in the desert and rescued over 800 people. So far this year there have been at least 38 deaths.
Many of those who will eventually need rescuing by the Border Patrol are told by human smugglers that the voyage from Mexico to the United States will be relatively easy. But in actuality the voyage is quite complicated, covering large swaths of rugged desert, terrain that sees temperatures rise up to 114, and with very little drinkable water available.