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Saving a life with the push of a button: Border Patrol rescue beacons across the Borderland

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- Border Patrol El Paso sector has seen a significant increase in migrant rescues this fiscal year (2024), making rescue beacons a technological tool used by the agency that can potentially save the life of a person who finds themselves in life-threatening situations.

There are 24 solar-powered rescue beacons placed in remote areas across the El Paso sector which, extends from Fort Hancock, Texas, to Lordsburg, New Mexico. The push of the red button in one of these beacons allows Border Patrol agents to get to migrants faster and give them help.

Border Patrol El Paso sector told ABC-7 that many migrants that cross illegally can sometimes walk the desert and remote areas for up to days or weeks where they face challenges from extreme weather.

Orlando Marrero Rubio, spokesperson for Border Patrol El Paso sector, says the agency has seen a total of 739 rescues this fiscal year (2024) in comparison to the 344 rescues this time last year during fiscal year 2023. Each fiscal year starts and ends in October.

“Most of the rescues and most of the deaths that we have encountered this fiscal year in El Paso sector have been within a mile, a mile and a half from the border barrier. So we have deployed those rescue beacons closer so that way they can press that button," said Marrero Rubio.

Marrero Rubio says it's important for migrants to stay near the beacon when requesting assistance since there have been situations where agents arrive at the location and don't find anybody.

“We start following footprints and unfortunately we have a situation where we find a person and instead of a rescue, it becomes an extraction of a dead body," said Marrero Rubio.

Border Patrol also has 520 placards across the sector where migrants can provide the serial number of the placard to an emergency operator and request help. Border Patrol has the geographical coordinates of each placard.

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Tony Gutierrez


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