A new device designed to assist illegal immigrants if they encounter
medical or other problems while attempting to enter the United States
via the hostile clime of the southwestern deserts is slated to become
operational within three months, according to an immigrant-rights group.

The Dec. 21 edition of The Desert Sun newspaper, located in Palm
Springs, Calif., said that Bob Beken of the group Project for Immigrant
Lives announced plans to deploy three of the new devices “within the
next 90 days.”

The gadgets, called “RESCUE” — for Radio Emergency System Cueing — is
similar to an emergency call box located on the side of interstate
highways.

If an illegal immigrant who is attempting to enter the U.S. through
the perilous and dangerously hot desert climates in Arizona and southern
California becomes seriously injured or begins to become incapacitated
because of heat or illness, he can either slap the “pole-like device or
rattle a red ring around its center to signal distress.”

When activiated, the RESCUE device sends an e-mail message stating
the need for assistance at that location to computers and pagers of
border patrol agents. The messages are developed by a computer inside
the device that is half the size of a deck of cards, then relayed to
waiting computers and pagers via satellite.

The devices come complete with instructions in English and Spanish,
as well as diagrams detailing how to use them.

Beken said the first devices would most likely be placed in holes,
but subsequent units would be dropped by helicopter to eliminate digging
costs.

He added that they could be built for about $4,000 each.

“There are a lot of immigrant-rights groups that are interested in
serving as a gatekeeper, but very few groups that focus on stopping
deaths on the border,” Beken said.

Earlier reports have said that dozens of illegal immigrants have died
while trying to enter the U.S. through the desert or dangerous mountain
regions.

“There is bottled water placed throughout the desert, which might
solve [an illegal immigrant’s] problem for the next 20 minutes,” Beken
said, “but they are still in the God-forsaken desert. It won’t do much
good if the person is suffering from a heat stroke.”

Though three of the devices can be made ready to deploy by the end of
March, the immigrant-rights activist said eventually about 1,000 of the
kiosks would be needed to stretch from San Diego to Douglas, Ariz.

He noted that the devices are virtually vandal-proof. If hit with an
object or shot, the devices automatically send an e-mail message
alerting agents about the vandalism.

Beken said he didn’t see the RESCUE devices as promoting illegal
immigration.

“This allows them to call for help, but it doesn’t allow them to
continue to commission of a crime by providing a ticket to Los Angeles,”
he said. “I just think it’s wrong to let people die.”

According to the Sun’s report, between October 1999 and October 2000,
13 immigrants died trying to cross the border. That figure, analysts
said, only represents those who were found or known to have perished;
the count is probably higher.

And, Beken said, in the future similar kiosks could be deployed in
mountainous regions across the U.S. to help lost or injured hikers and
mountain climbers.

Despite the introduction of the RESCUE devices and other efforts
aimed at assisting illegal immigrants,

some Mexican activists still
complain
that U.S. border patrol policies are tantamount to “imperialism.”

Hector Carreon, publisher of a U.S.-based pro-immigrant biweekly newsletter, has stated that Mexican nationals should have unencumbered access to the United States because “Mexicans were here [in the U.S.] before European immigrants arrived.”

But other critics of U.S. border policy say Washington isn’t tough enough on illegal immigrants or serious enough about protecting the U.S. border.

And, the U.S. Border Patrol union has

repeatedly complained that
Mexican army units
have breached the U.S. border and fired upon Border Patrol agents at least twice this year.


Related stories:


Border policy attacked by activists


Mexicans declare border war


Border accident or bounty-hunting?


Mexicans shoot at Border Patrol


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