Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Border Patrol's "Operation Heatwave" rescued over 20 this weekend

Border patrol agents rescued more than 20 people over the weekend, the majority a direct result of “Operation Heatwave”-- a program the Rio Grande Valley Sector initiated last week in response to the area's extremely high temperatures. This special program is an effort to save lives of immigrants in distress in the harsh brush country of Brooks County, Texas. (see map, below)

One such rescue occurred on Saturday, July 23 when the Brooks County Sheriff’s Office relayed a 911 call to agents from the Falfurrias Station.  Agents successfully located a group that was lost on a local ranch. One of those rescued needed medical attention and was taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation.

That same day, in an unrelated incident, agents rescued 12 undocumented immigrants at the Falfurrias Checkpoint, who were hidden inside a stifling hot moving van. A Border Patrol K-9 detected their presence during an initial inspection at the checkpoint. Upon further inspection the people were found hidden under a mattress and behind items of furniture.

In a different incident, not immigration-related but dramatic and interesting nevertheless, an off-duty U.S. Border Patrol agent assigned to the agency’s headquarters office in Washington, D.C., was involved in a rescue of a young girl while vacationing at South Padre Island, Texas over the weekend.

On July 22, the agent was at the beach when he noticed a woman in the water calling for help for her children in distress. The agent immediately ran toward the children, who seemed to be struggling to stay afloat. Two others joined the rescue attempt and pulled two of the children to a sandbar. However, a third child was pulled farther out into the open water by a rip tide. That young girl was screaming for help and struggling to stay above water.

The agent found a flotation device and swam out to her. As he swam back toward the beach with the young girl, several bystanders met him and carried the girl ashore. Emergency medical services personnel, already standing by, began giving first aid and transported the child to a nearby hospital.

As all these incidences from the weekend show, the Border Patrol agents are responsible for significant life-saving operations. And, as in the rescue of the child at South Padre, they put their training to use in a wide variety of circumstances, as they're called upon to respond to an unpredictable series of emergencies. I've encountered some very fine agents in my time along the border and heard reports of others I've never met.

Our nation needs to provide a dignified avenue for people --whose contributions we rely upon-- to enter our nation legally and safely. Beyond the significant ethical and moral considerations this would address, this provision would augment our national security.

Until we fix our broken immigration system, we continue to burden the Border Patrol with dangerous duties. 

1 comment:

Border Patrol said...

a third child was pulled farther out into the open water by a rip tide. That young girl was screaming for help and struggling to stay above water.