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Our Opinion: A welcome border addition

August 04, 2001

On Friday 16 El Centro sector Border Patrol agents graduated from a six-week course to train them in search and rescue techniques. Those agents will form a Border Patrol Search Trauma and Rescue team.

We are pleased the Border Patrol has chosen to expand the BORSTAR program to the Imperial Valley. Frankly, we think the program should have started here, considering how many illegal immigrants die in our canals. Nevertheless, we credit the Border Patrol for implementing a program on a wider scale aimed at increasing border safety and saving the lives of those who cross the border illegally.

We are hopeful the addition of a BORSTAR team here will help Border Patrol in its ongoing efforts to prevent deaths in our deserts and our waterways. No effort can be completely successful, but every effort helps.

It is interesting to see so much national focus on the border this summer. Rarely have we heard of so much communication between federal officials on both sides of the border. The United States and Mexico seem to be spending more time working together on increasing border safety, and that can only be a good thing,

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It is interesting that at the same time the Imperial Valley is getting a BORSTAR team, a Border Patrol strategy to keep immigrants out of urban areas has come under fire in a federal General Accounting Office report. According to the report, the strategy is pushing immigrants to high-risk areas as they sneak into the country over mountains and through deserts.

We agree with Border Patrol El Centro Sector Chief Kenneth Stitt, who said if enforcement efforts can keep people from crossing in the first place, then there would be no need to save lives.

We wonder if those criticizing Border Patrol efforts have spent any time in a border community and truly understand all the issues involved in trying to stop illegal immigration. People are going to continue to try to cross, even at the risk of their lives, as long as the dream of a better life for themselves and their families is there.

The desire must be strong for people to cross at the most dangerous time of the year and to enter bodies of water that could cause them to drown or infect them with disease. That is what the Border Patrol is facing in trying to stop illegal immigration and preventing deaths.

Officials are trying to find better ways to do things — mainly protect lives — and we think this one more effort will help.

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