While bone-chilling winter temperatures don’t deter illegal aliens from crossing the border, the U.S. is taking measures to provide what some might call a warm welcome for the lawbreakers.

Border Patrol agents in Arizona are now being issued blankets and “heat packs” to help those suffering from the effects of cold weather.

“They have to spend the night in the elements, in the cold,” Cmdr. Ron Bellavia, with the U.S. Border Patrol’s Search, Trauma and Rescue Team told KOLD-TV in Tucson. “They have to climb through 9,000 feet of mountains and drop back down and go through cold valleys.”

During a rescue demonstration this week, Bellavia said many illegals are unaware of the dangers making a winter trek, coming with inappropriate clothing and not enough water.

“People were crossing wearing a t-shirt and shorts or a t-shirt and jeans, and they got caught in the sleet and snow,” he told the station.

Many last year suffered from severe hypothermia “where they’re shivering uncontrollably,” he said. “Or at times, they’ll get to the point where they’re not shivering at all.”

So to help those in need, every Border Patrol agent can distribute blankets and miniature hand warmers, which are small packets that heat up when unwrapped.

Officials say the average migrant spends three to four days crossing the desert. Some 300 illegals were rescued in one week spans during cold snaps in 2000 and 2001.

Bellavia says many of the illegals are deceived by coyotes, the human smugglers guiding them through the rough terrain.

“They just take at face value what the smuggler tells them,” he said. “That it’s only going to be an eight-hour walk and they can do it on a gallon of water.”

During summer months, many border crossers fall victim to the other extreme, severe heat, which has prompted some charitable groups to provide water along routes in the desert.

As WorldNetDaily reported in September, a Time magazine story indicated illegal immigration into the U.S. has accelerated in the last year, since President Bush proposed a temporary worker program that amounts to a limited amnesty program that would allow millions to remain in the U.S. legally.

This year, according to the report, some 3 million more illegal aliens will enter the country – “enough to fill 22,000 Boeing 737-700 airliners, or 60 flights every day for a year.”

It’s the largest wave of illegal immigration into the country since 2001, and illegal immigration now represents triple the number of immigrants who enter the country legally.

On Monday, Bush did not back off the guest-worker program as he discussed his view of the proper role of immigration authorities.

“We want our Border Patrol agents chasing, you know, crooks and thieves and drug-runners and terrorists, not good-hearted people who are coming here to work,” Bush said. “And therefore, it makes sense to allow the good-hearted people who are coming here to do jobs that Americans won’t do a legal way to do so. And providing that legal avenue, it takes the pressure off the border.”

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