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Probe: March 22, 2002

March 22, 2002

QUESTION: My wife and I collect bottles. We find good sites (old trash dumps) around the New River. Lately we have noticed a bunch of rafts in the river. Last week there were six inflatable rafts at Brockman Road and the New River. This weekend we counted nine rafts at Lyons and the New River.

A plainclothes Border Patrol agent checked us out. We asked him and he told us the rafts are used by illegal aliens and that about 150 a night are going down the river. Is this true?

I thought we had the border under control. What's the real deal? — Bottle Hunters, El Centro

The deal is that an increasing number of illegal aliens have traded their Styrofoam boards and rubber tubes for the more comfortable rafts to cruise past the Border Patrol.

They're not fooling the Border Patrol. Agents are watching the crossers with night-vision scopes, waiting for the people to come ashore. It's a war out there — or at least a game of cat and mouse.

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LIFE'S MEANING RESTORED — The El Centro teacher's green Toyota Tacoma pickup has been recovered. After it was in PROBE, El Centro police called us at the Border Patrol. Our liasion officer told us the pickup had been recovered by the state police in Mexicali." — Border Patrol, El Centro

Thank you! As much as we would like to, we don't think PROBE readers can take credit for finding the truck, since the Mexicali police had already found it by the time you read it in PROBE.

QUESTION: When my mother's house burned down two days after Christmas, she breathed too much smoke and had a heart attack and has been in a coma ever since.

My nephew, 14, who had been living with my mother, moved in with us at the request of the El Centro police. Two weeks later my house burned. I think arson was involved in both fires.

The Red Cross paid for rooms for us at Vacation Inn for two weeks.

At the time of the fire, we were living in a Section 8 house with a rent subsidy. When the newspaper reported my nephew had been smoking, the Imperial Valley Housing Authority discontinued our Section 8 subsidy.

From the time we left the Vacation Inn, we have been living with friends. For one week we live with one family, then move to another. There are four sets of friends and we rotate. Welfare cut us off because we don't have an address. Please help us. I have two kids. — Nomads, El Centro

PROBE readers, this is not the Seeley family who lost its Christmas gifts in the New Year's fire. This is an equally sad case of an El Centro family who lost everything 10 days later and keeps on losing.

But we have some good news. Get in touch with Carolyn Benton at the Department of Social Services. Your welfare benefits were not discontinued because you don't have a place to live. You were discontinued because DSS couldn't find you at the Vacation Inn or reach you at your message phone.

But that's the way it is when people have no place to stay. They go from place to place and are hard to reach.

A DSS spokeswoman said you fit into a "special needs" category, so DSS will pay the security deposit and the first and last months rent on a place to live.

Once you get your house, maybe PROBE readers can help you get some furniture, dishes, pots and pans to get you settled. Good luck!

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