Tucson border group says agent took blankets intended for crossers

2013-01-17T13:08:00Z 2013-01-17T13:15:29Z Tucson border group says agent took blankets intended for crossersPerla Trevizo Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 17, 2013 1:08 pm  • 

A Tucson-based immigrants’ rights group says a hidden camera video it posted on Youtube shows a Border Patrol agent removing clean blankets and food intended for illegal border crossers in distress.

The 33-second video dated Jan. 8, shows an agent stopping by a clear plastic bag next to four water jugs. The agent opens the bag and looks inside but the video doesn’t show its contents. He is then seen walking away with the plastic bag on hand. Temperatures in the area that day were between a low of about 30 degrees and a high of about 60 degrees. The timestamp on the video says 10:18 a.m.

The video was shot near Arivaca, about 12 miles north of the international border, said Sarah Launius, a spokeswoman with No More Deaths.

Humanitarian organizations, including No More Deaths, leave food, water and blankets on desert trails often traveled by illegal border crossers.

“We’ve been using some cameras periodically to keep track of the type of use in different areas where we place supplies,” Launius said. “We spend a lot of time on trails to figure out where people are going and what are the needs.”

Last year, another hidden camera video showed Border Patrol agents vandalizing caches of life-saving water, according to the group. In response to this incident, then-Sector Chief Rick Barlow sent a memo to agents instructing them to respect humanitarian workers and provisions, Launius said.

“We know that hypothermia can be equally dangerous as dying from heat stroke in the summer. This month has been one of the most severe that Arizona has ever had,” said Norma Price, a medical adviser for the organization, in a news release.

“There is no question, people are crossing in the desert and their lives could be saved if they were given blankets and warm clothing,” she added.

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