Border Patrol: Apprehensions down 26 percent for year

July 31, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

Despite a weekend in which the bodies of four people were found in the New River, the U.S. Border Patrol reported it is still seeing a drop in the number of people attempting to cross the border illegally into the Imperial Valley.

U.S. Border Patrol Agent Dionicio Delgado said the number of apprehensions this month is down 29 percent over June and 26 percent for the year.

He said those numbers show there are fewer people making it across the border, including a decrease in the number of people attempting to traverse local waterways.

Still, immigrants are crossing the border on a regular basis and some are dying. This summer there have been more than 30 deaths in the local deserts and waterways and the number of deaths is increasing each week.


Delgado said he was surprised to see the deaths in the New River over the weekend.

"I personally cannot recall when we have had four deaths in the New River so close together," he said.

Delgado said unfortunately people do still attempt to enter the country illegally by swimming across the All-American Canal or floating down the New River.

He said the Border Patrol has an informational campaign in Mexicali demonstrating the dangers of crossing the border.

"We are urging them not to use (the New River) because of the contamination and the threat of drownings," he said.

To further discourage people from using the river, one of the most polluted waterways in the nation, the Border Patrol has put up stadium lights in areas around the river.

Still, agents say the river is a popular route because immigrants know agents will not go in after them.

Delgado said it is a policy that agents not enter the river because of the contamination in it.

Of the four bodies found over the weekend, two were discovered Friday. One was that of a man and the other of a woman. There was no information available on their identities.

Two more bodies were found in the river Sunday. Again, one was a man, one was a woman, and again, their identities were unavailable.

Whether there was any connection among the deaths beyond apparently drowning in the river was unavailable this morning.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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