Examining a Murky Border Patrol Press Release

By David North on June 8, 2021

The Border Patrol, particularly when unfettered by the White House, does many things very well.

It enforces the immigration law, escorts illegal aliens out of the country, and, from time to time, rescues aliens and citizens from dangerous conditions.

One of the things it does not do well is write press releases. Take this one from last week:

Yuma Sector Border Patrol Rescues U.S. Citizen from River

Release Date: June 4, 2021

YUMA, Ariz. – The Yuma Sector Border Patrol boat unit, Yuma Air Branch air interdiction agents and the Border, Search, Trauma and Rescue team worked together Thursday morning to rescue a woman who was stuck in the tules along the Colorado River.

At 6:40 a.m., the boat unit received a request for assistance from the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office regarding a woman in the river near the Paradise Cove area who was calling for help and could not be located. YAB air interdiction agents also responded to the location.

The boat unit and pilots were able to determine the location of the female but could not reach her. Two members of BORSTAR’s dive team entered the river and were able to safely pull her from the location and on to the shore.

The woman, a 40-year-old U.S. citizen, was turned over to Rural Metro and transported to Yuma Regional Medical Center for observation. The Imperial County Sheriff’s and Fire Departments were also on scene as the woman was in an area along the north side of the river, which is in California.

The Human Interest Factor. Editors are interested in human drama, and the press release manages to miss whatever dramatic facts were involved. Why was the lady in the river at 6:40 in the morning? Was she fishing, trapping, seeking specimens, or just chasing her hat that the wind had blown into the water? Was she in a boat or on foot? How did she manage to get stuck such that she was not able to extricate herself? My sense is that she waded into a quagmire of some kind and could not get out. Further, just what did the Border Patrol have to do to rescue her? What was her condition after the rescue?

Editors might be interested, but the press release is silent on all those matters.

The Bureaucratic Factor. While the release does not answer the pertinent questions above, it does make sure that absolutely every element of the Border Patrol, and allied agencies, even those who played the slightest roles, are mentioned in full. This is typical of a BP press release.

Tules and Tulles. This release says that the victim was “stuck in the tules” without explaining what they are. (In an emailed message about the same incident, with which there is no link, it is spelled “tulles”.)

Tulle is a kind of fabric used in women’s dresses, but tule is a large reed, also called a bulrush, which given its use in the Bible is a much more widely understood term. Just as the Pharaoh’s daughter rescued Moses, so the Border Patrol rescued the nameless lady from the bulrushes.

The Divers. The rescuers were two agents who are described as the Border Patrol’s “dive team”; unless there is some more missing information, there would have been no need for divers in this situation which would seem to have taken place in and above the water, not deep beneath it. But just as the helicopter pilots become “air interdiction agents” so agents who can swim become its “dive team”.

The Yuma Sector, unlike some other sectors, rarely needs a dive team, much as the Nevada State Police rarely need one. By the time the Colorado River reaches Mexico, American farmers and big cities have just about squeezed all the water out of it.

This brings up another point: If the Yuma Sheriff’s Office first found out about the problem, why didn’t some deputy sheriff jump in the water to save the lady? Was it because she was on the other (Imperial County, Calif.) side of the river, and thus in danger of dying, but in someone else’s jurisdiction? And wasn’t there anyone in Imperial County’s employ who could swim?

The Border Patrol, to its credit, had both swimmers and no jurisdictional hesitations.

As we have noted in the past, the Border Patrol needs an editor.

The author, off and on for 60 years, was a journalist, and later a publicist with: a New York advertising agency, a division of the New Jersey state government , an obscure wing of the LBJ White House, and the Office of Insular Affairs in the U.S. Department of the Interior.