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Friday, June 13, 2014 - 5:30pm
El Paso (KDBC) — CBP Border Patrol, Instituto Nacional de Migracion, The Consulate General of Mexico, along with other agencies have teamed up for the border safety initiative campaign.
The campaign is aimed at creating awareness on the dangers of crossing the border on land and in water.
Of the 268 border miles along the U.S. and Mexico border in El Paso, 88 are waterways.
"The water on the top is very calm but the under current runs anywhere from 30 to 35 miles an hour," said George Gomez, border patrol agent.
Despite the danger, thousands attempt to cross into the U.S. every year.
People like 16-year-old Juan, who came into the U.S. from El Salvador, with the help of a smuggler. He was abandoned once entering the U.S., leaving him to survive on canal water and oranges.
Juan says now, he plans on turning himself into immigration and going through the proper process to get citizenship.
It's dangerous journeys such as Juan's that have prompted agencies to create awareness.
Public service announcements will run on local Mexican TV and radio stations about the dangers.
"Now with the influx, we are trying to push it even more for our partners down in Mexico and Central America as well as inform them of the dangers that they could possibly face," said Gomez.
Agents, along with the 17 border patrol search, trauma and rescue members in the El Paso sector are the first on scene and trained to rescue under varying levels of intensity.
"We have rescue boxes that are located throughout the river system that have rescue ropes and vests," Gomez said.
According to the El Paso sector, they have seen a drop in deaths along the border..
In 2013 there were 2 deaths, down from 33 in 2006.
"It's the shared hope of preventing the loss of life of anyone trying to illegally enter this country," said Benjamine Hoffman, Deputy Chief Patrol Agent.