Border Water Source
This is the peak season for illegal immigration from Mexico into the U.S. Because of increased surveillance, migrants are choosing ever more dangerous routes over the border. As Reed Galin reports, dehydration is a major risk, but one humanitarian group is employing a practical solution to prevent death in the desert.
(Locator: Near Tucson, AZ)
Paul Fuschini / Humane Borders: “We're approaching what we call the season of death.”
United Methodist Paul Fushini has a thirst to end the suffering.
Paul Fuschini / Humane Borders: "We got together as a group and said, you know, death in the desert is not acceptable."
Paul is with a group known as Humane Borders - a faith-based organization that establishes water stations for migrants trying to get from Mexico into the United States.
Tim Holt / Humane Borders Volunteer: "It's only about a quarter-full and this is about half-full."
Beneath a blue flag that signals water in the distance, these volunteers make sure the oasis never runs dry. And yet, they will probably never meet the people they help.
Paul Fuschini / Humane Borders: "We go to a site and we start picking up backpacks and hats and pants and shirts and I found this - I have grandchildren this size. You know, it just breaks my heart to see things like this."
Moisés Yañez is a retired United Methodist pastor who believes this effort is a way to save lives.
The Rev. Moisés Yañez / United Methodist Pastor: “To me this is a very, very practical way to address a big problem.”
Desert temperatures are a searing 115 degrees in the summer. Last year in the Tucson area alone, 200 people died making this journey.
Paul Fuschini: “Last year we put out 25 thousand gallons of water.”
The Border Patrol has agreed not to use the water tanks to lure illegals.
Paul Fuschini / Humane Borders: "People often say, 'You're encouraging people to come here,' and I can say without hesitation that they don't come here to drink the water. I've been asked many times ‘Do you think you're saving lives?’ and I know in my heart we are. I just want to keep putting water out until we find some solution to the problem.”
Humane Borders maintains 70 water tanks along the border in California and Arizona. Volunteers keep the tanks filled and clean, and check the water for purity.
Close to one million people tried to cross into the United States from Mexico last year.
Also see: Border ministry helps immigrants survive desert crossing.