more than sixty have died in south Texas Brush Country already this year.
The U.S. Border Patrol in South Texas has turned from catching illegal immigrants to trying to save them, as the summer heat has led to more illegals being found dead in the unforgiving Brush Country, 1200 WOAI news reports.
More than sixty bodies of people believed to be immigrants trying to sneak into the U.S. have been found in the Rio Grande Valley sector alone this year, up from last year. The latest was the body of a woman found in rural Brooks County this week.
Border Patrol Agent Rosalinda Huey says the agency is taking several steps to get the word out about the dangers of trying to walk through the Brush Country in the summertime, including running ads on radio stations in Mexico.
"Explaining to people the dangers of coming into the United States illegally, and putting their lives into the hands of smugglers," she said.
Immigrant smugglers often charge illegals between $2,000 and $5,000 to ferry them across the border, and then they dump them just north of the Rio Grande in the rugged Brush Country. They often tell the immigrants that whatever big city they are heading for, San Antonio, Houston, or even Dallas, is 'just over that hill,' no more than a day's walk away, and water and food are plentiful.
"A lot of these ranch areas they are walking through have no water, and the smuggler have not told them what kind of country they are walking through, or how much water they'll need," she said.
Some of the immigrants found dead in the Brush Country are wearing sandals and other clothing which is completely inappropriate for people walking through the area.
"Some if not most of these people have traversed several countries, so by the time they get into Texas, they are tired, they haven't slept well, they haven't eaten well," she said.
In addition, the Border Patrol has erected signs on landmarks like windmills and fence posts, urging illegals in need to call for help. There are also a series of GPS connected emergency beacons, which illegals can use to summon help.
"An immigrant or anyone who finds themselves in need can push a button, and it sends out a distress call to our dispatch," Huey said.
She says there have been more than 150 search and rescue operations so far this year, many conducted by the Border Patrol's specially trained BORSTAR unit.
The big problem with walking through the Brush Country, officials say, is that there are no landmarks. Frequently there aren't even telephone poles to mark the passage through the area, and illegals often walk around in circles until they die of heat stroke and dehydration.