PHOENIX - The number of migrants trying to cross the United States-Mexico Border illegally continues to grow, and as the temperatures start to rise, CBP officials in Arizona are preparing for a busy summer, with one woman actually comparing Arizona desert rescues to combat war zones.
"Tucson Sector performs multiple rescue operations daily in the summer heat," said Sabri Dikman.
The Arizona desert is the most dangerous place for migrants to cross illegally.
"It's a fact more migrant deaths have been reported in Arizona then anywhere else along the Southwest border. I’m talking 1000s of people since 1998, when i started my career," said Dikman.
"Many people die from dehydration from exposure, but also another element of this is that we find many skeletal remains, so people pass and we don't know why," said Juanita Molina.
Officials with the CPB, CPB's Tucson Sector, a humanitarian non-profit, and representatives from the governments of Mexico and Guatemala all spoke with media this week to send a message.
"The message is simple: don't do it," said Dikman. "The desert is vast, and it's treacherous."
The message, however, contrasts with a rather grim reality.
"What I hear are 1000s of times over these years: I'd rather die trying," said Molina.
Agents say the heat won’t deter people from coming, and this is the busiest they’ve been since 2013. Across the Douthwest border, the number of migrants encountered in April increased slightly compared to already high numbers in March, which was the highest number in 20 years.
"Sometimes, we'll close our checkpoints to move those agents in other locations," said Dikman.
To help combat the issue, they’re deploying an extra flight crew with a paramedic and these portable rescue beacons, so migrants in danger can call for help.
"I worked in many emergency rooms where they train combat doctors, but I was completely ill-prepared to see what happened here in the desert," said Molina.
More of those emergency beacons are being rolled out across the Southwest border. For now, agents ask migrants in distress to call 911, flag down their helicopters, and do everything you can to survive.
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