Desert Invasion - U.S.


County OKs $25K for water stations in desert

Pima County supervisors voted yesterday to again support water stations that help illegal immigrants survive treks across the desert, after hearing that it costs the county more to recover and deal with bodies than to fund the lifesaving program.

It costs about $300,000 annually to recover and store the bodies of illegal immigrants who die in Pima County, Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said.

The supervisors voted 4-1 to provide $25,000 for another year to Humane Borders, the Tucson faith-based agency whose members have provided more than 65,000 gallons of water to immigrants [criminal illegal aliens] who have crossed into Arizona's deadly deserts over the past five years.

"It is a humanitarian issue where you have to draw on your own religious beliefs to try to prevent death," Supervisor Richard Elías said....

"It costs the county about $1,500 for an autopsy," Elías said, "and that is without going out and dragging bodies out of the desert."

Supervisor Ann Day voted against the allocation, as she has each year.

"We really don't know if this is saving lives or costing lives," Day said.

Day said she believes providing water to illegal immigrants could be considered abetting in a crime and could violate federal law.

The belief that there will be life-saving water available in remote regions of the desert favored by immigrants [criminal illegal aliens] may spur more to try to come into this country, she said....

"No person can argue that making water available to illegal aliens - criminals - is not encouraging, aiding, and abetting those aliens committing that illegal act," Wes Bramhall, president of Arizonans for Immigration Control, told the supervisors. "The knowledge that there are approximately 50 or more water stations in the desert is a factor in these illegals deciding to attempt the invasion of our nation."

More than 225 probable illegal immigrants have died in the Arizona desert this year, according to combined reports from the Pima County medical examiner and the U.S. Border Patrol....

There is no federal or state reimbursement for the medical examiner's costs to store bodies or the incarceration of those arrested after crossing illegally, Huckelberry said.

Huckelberry told the supervisors it costs $8 million annually to hold illegal immigrants in the county jail system.

The supervisors also yesterday declared an Arizona-Mexico International Border Security Emergency as a step toward applying for additional state and federal funds to deal with the flood of illegal immigrants.

The action follows a declaration of emergency last month by Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano aimed at freeing $1.5 million in federal funds for use in border counties to cope with the environmental, medical, public safety and law enforcement issues created by illegal immigration....


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