TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Border Patrol is being accused of leaving thousands of migrants to die in the desert, without attempting to save them. And while authorities say they’re devoted to finding lost individuals, members of two humanitarian aid organizations insist their research shows otherwise.
“Disappearance or death are very common outcomes in at least one-third of the time that Border Patrol refused to take action, " said Sophie Smith, member of the organization No More Deaths.
A new report, from migrant organizations No More Deaths and Derechos Humanos, attributed these deaths to law enforcement. The report makes serious claims of neglect toward migrants in distress.
“Border Patrol intentionally funnels migrating people into the most remote and dangerous terrain, intentionally endangering their lives,” said NMD member, Parker Deighan.
Deighan says they analyzed 2,000 crisis hotline calls and nearly 500 cases involving missing migrants. Their report showed 40% of the time, Border Patrol didn’t respond to emergency search and rescue requests.
“We find that letting people to die in the middle of desert is consistent with Border Patrol’s strategy in enforcing the border through the method of ‘deterrence through death’,” said Deighan.
The report also states BP’s search efforts last less than an hour, and claims border agents prevent other organizations and family members to search themselves for their loved ones.
“We witness this daily in our work in the desert. Practice of chase and scatter, where they chase groups of migrant people causing them to become lost and injured, interference with lifesaving humanitarian aid, and destruction of water gallons left in remote migrant trails,” said Deighan.
The groups are asking for new immigration policies at a federal, state, and local level calling the current ones, inhumane.
KOLD News 13 reached out to CBP multiple times, asking for response to the allegations. In both cases, CBP only provided a written statement that reads, “CBP remains committed to humanely securing the southern border of the United States and devotes the totality of its force to finding lost or injured individuals while also balancing the border security mission with which they are charged.”
Organization members said Border Patrol receives about five rescue calls daily, claiming BP is not transparent about their outcomes. Today both groups filed a complaint to move forward with litigation forcing BP to release this data.