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Voice: Desert deaths not like ‘The Killing Fields'

July 09, 2001

I am disappointed in your July 4 front-page article, "Hunter sheds his image to help save lives." This is such a distorted article that I can not imagine it appearing on the front page where readers expect news. Immigrant deaths in our desert is a tragedy, but this article is just provocative.

The most obnoxious statement Staff Writer Kelly Grant wrote was the single-sentence paragraph "He is standing in the middle of a killing field." This supports Hunter's later quote "It's a heinous crime… It's the classic thing where people have just turned away."

"The Killing Fields" was a 1984 movie that showed the genocide perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. How dare Ms. Grant suggest our desert is a killing field. Who does she accuse of killing immigrants? Is she suggesting Imperial Valley residents or the government is perpetrating genocide like that seen in Cambodia? How dare you put such an intentional inflammatory statement in a front-page article of the Independence Day edition of the Press.


Mr. Hunter has had the stations in place for two seasons so far. Judging by reading of your paper, there does not seem to be a reduction in immigrant deaths. I wonder, if there is a drop in deaths, is that because of the water stations or perhaps because more illegal aliens are caught? Not investigating this point about the effectiveness of the stations shows this article to be no better than a tabloid piece meant only to stir emotion.

The tragedy of people illegally entering the Valley dying here can not be ignored. Your paper and Ms. Grant should realize that these people are dying as a consequence of choices they themselves have made.

As humanitarians, we do rescue many illegal immigrants a year. The key to immigrant survival, once the people make that decision, is early interdiction. Mr. Hunter's group could address educating people likely to attempt a crossing, while still in Mexico, to the dangers of crossing the desert. In the end, there is nothing we can do to remedy people taking dangerous chances.


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