MARFA, Texas — Border protection agents in West Texas are seeing a record number of migrants.
Just last month, there were more than 188,000 migrant encounters along the southern border.
In the Big Bend sector, agents are also seeing an increase in migrant deaths. Already this fiscal year there have been 32 deaths, compared to seven last year.
Friday the Big Bend Sector of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection introduced a new technology being deployed to help rescue migrants in the rough terrain. It’s called a rescue beacon.
Migrants can come up to it and press a button, causing a signal to go off and that will alert border patrol that they need help.
Often migrants arrive dehydrated and close to heat exhaustion. Border patrol just wants to make sure they have these beacons in their sector so they don’t come across as many deaths.
“They’re not prepared for these distances for this difficult terrain. And there’s no water. So that’s what creates this problem, they may have some water but again you need more than water. If you start to get cramps you can’t walk anymore. And then when they start to succumb to the heat related illnesses… I mean it’s just a terrible way to go,” Sean McGoffin, Chief Patrol Agent of the US Border Patrol Big Bend Sector said.
A total of 30 machines will be deployed as soon as they are built. Other sectors already have these beacons in place, but with the rough and dangerous terrain of the Big Bend area it could mean the difference between life and death.
“We want to facilitate their rescue. We don’t care what country they come from, when someone needs help we need to respond, so when they use this to call 911 then we have agents in the are who can respond. Mostly likely it will be us because we have agents in the area who can respond the quickest to things,” McGoffin said.