Advertisement

Our Opinion: Ashcroft's good idea

July 26, 2001

While he may be one of the most controversial figures in our nation, there was little controversial in the words of U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft when he spoke in the Calexico area Tuesday.

Addressing Border Patrol agents and local, federal and Mexican officials near the All-American Canal, Ashcroft promised to bring a Border Patrol desert rescue team to the El Centro sector to try to make a dramatic cut in the number of illegal immigrants dying in our area's deserts and canals. He has similar promises for other areas along the U.S.-Mexico border, including for our neighbors in Yuma. Such teams already exist in the Border Patrol's San Diego and Tucson sectors.

Ashcroft's nomination to become attorney general quickly became mired in controversy connected to his religious, political and racial views, and that controversy has not subsided totally. Still, it is hard to argue with a man who has a mission of saving lives, which was the goal Ashcroft stated in his address Tuesday. Too many people are dying in our valley and beyond for the relatively minor crime of crossing the border illegally. Time and time again we have said something needs to be done to stop the deaths, and Ashcroft is proposing doing something.

Advertisement

In his first visit to the Imperial Valley, Ashcroft picked an appropriate place to talk about the dangers inherent in illegally crossing the border here. The All-American Canal has taken hundreds of lives over the years and has taken scores in just the last few. Just north of the international border with Mexico, the canal often must be traversed by those illegally heading north. While it looks placid, as Ashcroft said, the canal has powerful currents that quickly prove deadly, particularly for those who don't swim well.

Even more people have been dying in our deserts in recent years. Thoughtless smugglers, known as "coyotes," often lead groups of unknowing illegal immigrants into the hell that is our deserts in the summer months. When things start to get difficult or people start wavering, the coyotes often leave people in the desert to die.

A rescue squad dedicated to pulling people from the All-American and rescuing people lost or stranded in the desert might save many lives every year.

Ashcroft was correct in lauding those Border Patrol agents who have saved the lives of many immigrants in recent months. They are heroes.

If Ashcroft's plan means more immigrants' lives are saved and more agents get to become heroes in coming years, who could argue with it?

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles
|
|
|