Border Patrol Search Rescues Illegal Migrant Lost for Five Days, but Can't Save Everybody

Tell activists: Illegal migrants are on a suicide mission, and it is Border Patrol's job to stop them

By Andrew R. Arthur on June 13, 2020

  • On Tuesday morning, Border Patrol agents from the Marfa and Presidio (Texas) stations located and saved a Mexican national who had been lost for five days.
  • On Sunday evening, agents from the Hebbronville (Texas) station launched an extensive search with CBP Air and Marine for migrants who had been left behind by a group of seven others. They located a Mexican national with severe dehydration who was treated and lived. An unresponsive 29-year-old Honduran could not be saved, despite agents' best efforts.

On Tuesday morning, Border Patrol agents from the Marfa and Presidio stations of the component's Big Bend Sector rescued an alien who had been lost for five days. He was one of the lucky ones.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Border Patrol's Presidio station received a call on Sunday from an individual who stated that a family member who had entered illegally was feared lost. Agents from the two stations commenced a 36-hour search, locating the Mexican national early on Tuesday. He stated that he had spent five days in the area, and although hungry, that he was otherwise not ill.

He was taken to Marfa station, where emergency medical technicians (EMTs) checked him out. After that medical evaluation, he was cleared for processing. He got lucky that the officers of an often-vilified agency 1) were willing and able to expend the resources to find him; and 2) that he was found alive.

Big Bend Sector is massive, and the population there is sparse. It has responsibility for 517 miles of the Southwest border in a section of Texas where there is not much infrastructure, period. In the area of responsibility of Marfa station, which patrols 68 miles of that border, there are fewer than 5,000 people.

To give you an idea, the town of Marfa (population 1,600) has a website captioned: "Tough to Get Here. Tougher to Explain. But Once You Get Here, You Get It." I will trust them on the last point (the second is self-evident), but the first one is the God's honest truth.

Marfa is an hour's drive south of Interstate 10 at Balmorhea, and an hour's drive north of the closest border crossing at Ojinaga, Chihuahua, Mexico. Check your gas and coolant before you start. Part of the Rock Hudson/James Dean classic "Giant" was filmed there (the desolate landscape is as much a character as Elizabeth Taylor's Leslie Lynnton Benedict), and the military's Chemical Warfare Brigades were stationed there during the 1940s — presumably because there was not much damage that could be done if something went wrong.

Plus, the weather is unforgiving. "A wet day is one with at least 0.04 inches of liquid or liquid-equivalent precipitation," and the average hottest day of the year is coming up: June 14, when the average high temperature reaches 89 degrees. There is not much there, and if you don't find it, you won't last long.

Some aren't lucky. Nearly 500 miles to the southeast, agents from the Hebbronville station of the Laredo Border Patrol Sector apprehended seven illegal migrants near Highway 359 on Sunday evening. They told the Border Patrol that some of their group had been left behind in the brush several hours earlier. Border Patrol and CBP Air and Marine launched a major search looking for those who were lost.

An hour later, two were located. One (a 40-year-old Mexican national) was "trembling severely", the other (a 29-year-old Honduran) was "nonresponsive". A Border Patrol EMT began treatment on both, and emergency medical services responded. The Mexican national was transported to the hospital with sever dehydration. The Honduran could not be saved.

Hebbronville (population 4,558), the seat of Jim Hogg County, is not quite as desolate as Marfa, but it is about as isolated. It is 56 miles to Laredo, and 35 miles to Falfurrias (population 4,981) — itself not a garden spot. The average daily high in Hebbronville from mid-May to mid-September is 90 degrees (it is not a "dry heat", with the likelihood of it being muggy in June running between 73 and 80 percent), but again, 0.04 inches of precipitation is a wet day. Avoiding Border Patrol in the interior means avoiding population centers, and avoiding population centers there means quick dehydration and death.

Whether they know it or not, every migrant who crosses illegally along the Southwest border is on a suicide mission, and it is Border Patrol's job to stop them. The next time some activist group bad-mouths Border Patrol's mission, or asserts that agents have been "tasked with performing increasingly brutal tasks", tell them to go to Marfa. It may be tough to get to, but once they get there, they will get it — the truth, at least.