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Jun 23, 2013 8:37 PM by Erika Flores

BORSTAR keeping busy during triple digit heat

TUCSON-Part of the Senate's border surge proposal would be to double patrol agents at the border.

Agents' first job is to secure the border apprehending border crossers or drug traffickers, but agents called BORSTAR, or the Border Patrol Search Trauma and Rescue unit, also respond to all sorts of emergencies.

News 4 Tucson rode along with the unit as they rescued an immigrant in the desert.

It's the 23rd day in a row with triple digit heat, and BORSTAR has been keeping busy with rescue missions to get people out of the blazing sun.

"When you go out in the field every day is different. You don't know if you're going to make an apprehension. You don't know if you're going to make a rescue," said Shelton McKenzie with Border Patrol.

BORSTAR rescued an immigrant in the desert on the Tohono O'odham reservation.

"Agents were on patrol and came across what we refer to as a quitter. Someone that's given up, has been separated from their group," said McKenzie.

They found the border crosser in triple digit heat exhausted from his journey.

"A lot of Border Patrol efforts and BORSTAR efforts are focused on rescues right now because of the temperatures," said McKenzie.

"I vomited yesterday," said the immigrant.

A sign of heat exhaustion, BORSTAR took him into the shade.

"A lot of these folks are being lied to and being told that Tucson or Phoenix is only a day or 2 walk. They've walked for 4 or 5 days, so by the time we've encountered them, our apprehension mission quickly turns into a rescue," said McKenzie.

In the last month, BORSTAR has rescued around 200 people walking in the desert due to heat-related illnesses.

"These re-supply groups will come out by giving them some ‘false hope' is what we refer to it as," said McKenzie.

The bags with snacks, water even socks are often left in the desert for border crossers to find.

"It's an opportunity for them to try and further their way into the United States," said McKenzie.

But even if border crossers find the stashes, they often time still need to be rescued from this sweltering heat.


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