Special unit renders aid to people in distress

Staff report, Alice Echo-News Journal

EDINBURG, Texas - U.S. Customs and Border Protection Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol Sector routinely steps up its efforts to curtail the number of heat-related deaths of people who choose to cross illegally into the United States during the summer months.

Since October 1, 2006, the Rio Grande Valley sector has rescued 467 people in distress situations and has documented 42 deaths, two of which due towere exposure to high temperatures.

"Our humanitarian mission of assisting those in emergent situations is of great importance to us as we secure our nation's borders. With high vigilance and the expertise of medically trained Border Patrol agents in remote areas where human smugglers have abandoned people, numerous rescues have occurred. These rescues have resulted in saved lives that would have otherwise perished to the elements," stated Rio Grande Valley Sector Acting Chief Patrol Agent Reynaldo M. Garza.

To aid in this endeavor, Border Patrol agents from the Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue (BORSTAR) Unit are deployed to areas of high risk, such as the Brooks County and Kenedy area. These areas are well-known corridors for illegal aliens who choose to circumvent the Falfurrias and Sarita Border Patrol checkpoints. BORSTAR agents are a rapid response team that provides medical assistance to those in distress.

In addition, they are the premier search and rescue team in the border community.

BORSTAR agents attend to anyone in need inclusive of Border Patrol Agents, civilians, and undocumented immigrants throughout the border area.