News From the Border

Providing the news from a different front but from a war that we must win as well! I recognize the poverty and desperate conditions that many Latinos live in. We, as the USA, have a responsibility to do as much as we can to reach out to aid and assist spiritually with the Gospel and naturally with training, technology and resources. But poverty gives no one the right to break the laws of another sovereign nation.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Mexican Border Patrol: Grupos Beta

Their mission: Turn back migrants, save lives
No guns, no radios: This is Mexico's border patrol

Sean Holstege
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 29, 2008 12:00 AM

SAN LUIS RIO COLORADO, Sonora - Mexico's unarmed border patrol faces a daunting challenge: Arrest often-dangerous smugglers and persuade people, who have invested their life's savings to cross the border illegally, to head back home.

The border agents patrol without weapons or radios in parts of the Altar Desert so remote that their cellphones don't work. Here, drug smugglers roam freely with military-style automatic rifles and satellite phones.

Called Grupos Beta, the agents are parts federal police, medic and social worker. They exist to deter hundreds of thousands of compatriots from dangerous border crossings and to rescue them when the harsh landscape and climate prove too much. Agents also arrest the coyotes who guide immigrants into the United States, violating laws of both countries.

Yet questions linger about the role and effectiveness of the Betas, who were disarmed in 2000 because of abuse allegations. Grupos Beta has fans and foes on both sides of the border.

Detractors portray the Betas as a Band-Aid against illegal immigration at best and at worst as adding to the problem. Supporters, including U.S. Border Patrol agents, point to the nearly 5,700 rescues by Betas last year along the U.S.-Mexican frontier. Human-rights groups say the Betas have overcome their image as armed thugs preying on immigrants to become respected as an elite corps of lifesavers.

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