EL PASO, Texas – As one set of U.S. Border Patrol agents were rescuing a pair of migrants overcome by heat in a remote desert area near Santa Teresa on Wednesday, more agents were saving another pair of migrants from drowning in an El Paso canal along the border.
The increase in migrant rescues comes as newly released federal government data showed border crossing numbers remain at high levels. Overall, there were more than 180,000 encounters on the U.S.-Mexico border in May, little changed from a month earlier.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection said encounters with single adults rose, while family encounters fell and there was also a sharp decline in the number of unaccompanied children entering the U.S. illegally.
Wednesday's water rescue involved two migrants in the American Canal around the area underneath the Yarbrough overpass with Highway 375.
Border agents found one migrant clinging to the canal ladder rungs to keep from getting swept away, while the other migrant was see trying to stay afloat as the current swept him downstream. Both were quickly pulled from the water, and after being offered medical treatment were expelled to Mexico under Title 42 due to Covid concerns.
“We are proactively advising people not to cross the border barrier and enter the canals for their own safety. These rapid, moving waters present a serious drowning hazard for any human being,” said El Paso Sector Border Patrol Chief Patrol Agent Gloria Chavez.
The Rio Grande, which feeds the canals, has surged recently following a water release into the river late last month at Elephant Butte.
Wednesday's other rescue by border agents involved two Ecuadorian migrant women who were overcome by heat - one to the point of being unconscious - in a remote desert area near the Santa Teresa port of entry after illegally crossing the border. Both women were being treated at area hospitals after being located.
Sunland Park's fire chief, whose department was also involved in the desert rescue, expressed concerned that his firefighters may be responding to more calls in the coming days of crossing migrants suffering dehydration because of the extreme heat.