Voice: IID needs help with canal lifesaving project

April 19, 2001

The Imperial Irrigation District board should be commended for its concern about the safety of undocumented immigrants attempting to swim across the All-American Canal. Nobody wants to see another drowning in those treacherous waters. Installing lifelines might very well be the answer.

The question is: Who should do it? Is the safety of illegal immigrants an IID responsibility? Or does Mexico have some responsibility here? Or the United States?

A few hundred thousand dollars for lifelines across the canal would be a drop in the bucket for either of the two nations. It's a full bucket for Imperial County, where unemployment is high and wages are low.

Mr. John Hunter, who proposed this lifesaving project, deserves respect from both sides of the border for the compassion he has shown for undocumented immigrants. He was, of course, unforgivably rude in coming to our county as a guest and criticizing our duly elected IID officials. This is a right normally reserved for those of us who elected those officials. But rude or not, we should not ignore the problem Mr. Hunter has pointed out, the problem of lives lost in the All-American Canal.


Such tragedies should no longer be tolerated. The national and international powers that are responsible for safety at international borders should put an end to these accidents. Immediately.

Those of us who pay power and water bills in Imperial County should not be asked to finance a solution to a problem that concerns nations, not just Imperial County. We elected the IID board to solve water and power problems, which I think they do very well. We did not elect them to spend our money trying to solve international problems.

Perhaps Mr. Hunter will lobby the U.S. Congress, or the officials in his home county, to address this problem and not just the IID.



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