August 31, 2001

BC's High-Risk Border-Crossing Zones

Raúl Ramírez Baena, the head of the Baja California Human Rights Office, told Tijuana's Frontera newspaper that Mexico will force migrants into more dangerous, less-traveled areas and into the hands of human traffickers by declaring high-risk zones along dangerous parts of the US-Mexico border. He also said that Mexico should not do the US's immigration dirty work.

Mexican officials stated in early July that their country would not permit migrants to go to the US via high-risk routes that have resulted in the weather-related deaths of travelers in the past.

At the beginning of July, 2001 Enrique Berruga of the Mexican Secretary of Exterior Relations (Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores) stated that Mexico wants orderly and legal migration between the US and Mexico. Berruga also stated that the position of the Mexican government is to defend the life of its citizens and that the way to do this is by "impeding them from crossing in highly dangerous areas."

Baja California Governor Alejandro González Alcocer was also reported as having said in early July, 2001 that he will soon declare two high-risk crossing areas in the state. The regions are the Mesa de Andrade and La Rumorosa, both near Méxicali. Both areas will be monitored by an unspecified group or groups that will try to keep potential migrants out of the area.

BC Grupo Beta administrator Carlos Luna Herrera told the Frontera newspaper that his immigrant-rescue group already patrols the so-called high-risk areas. "We work to protect and assist migrants and ... make sure that no one takes advantage of them and that their rights are protected," Luna said. He also stated, "If they [migrants] are tired, thirsty or hungry, Beta gets them out of the place where they are in danger and they are brought to our installations where we give the water, food and sometimes a place to sleep."

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