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SPECIAL REPORT: Water drop offs in the desert

Karina Bazarte takes a look at how local non-profit organizations help out migrants in the extreme heat

IMPERIAL COUNTY, Calif. (KYMA, KECY) - It is hard to escape the rays of the sun in the desert with water nowhere to be found, sometimes the migrants who cross through from the border, die of dehydration.

"I started dropping water because this is a way of saving lives and also to bring hope to migrants," said Hugo Castro, a migrant activist.

Many migrants cross the southwest border almost every day.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, so far this fiscal year, Border Patrol had over one and a half million encounters at the southwest border including almost 44,000 in the El Centro sector.

Dehydration is one of the leading causes of migrant deaths.

“They are afraid of dying here because of the extreme heat. If they're really cold, they are afraid of dying because they are really cold, extreme weather or also they are afraid of being caught by Border Patrol,” explained Castro.

One non-profit organization, Gente Unida, along with S-O-S Migrants travel to the California border to drop off water jugs.

“I started putting water in the desert around 1995,” said Enrique Morones, founder of Border Angels and Gente Unida.

Enrique Morones, the founder of Border Angels and Gente Unida said, at a young age he and his siblings became social justice leaders, and putting water in the desert is just one of the actions the organization does.

“It’s our upbringing. My parents are from Mexico that led the way to care for other people,” said Morones.

Hugo Castro who is an activist working in San Diego, Imperial County, Tijuana, and Mexico said he has been leading groups to the desert since 2010.

Before the water drop-offs, the organization reaches out to Border Patrol to let agents know they'll be in the area.

On the day of the water drop-offs, the group meets at Chicano Park in San Diego.

“We are here in Jacumba, we are here to do a water drop. This is one of the many areas where we drop water to try to save the lives of the migrants that are trying to cross the border,” said Castro.

Castro said Jacumba is just one of the places where they drop off the water jugs.

"We drop water in the Imperial Valley and also in this area Jacumba and from Andrade near the Algodones border," said Castro.

But water is not the only thing they provide.

They also drop blankets during the winter as temperatures start dropping in the desert.

Meaningful messages like “Estamos con ustedes," which means "we are with you."

Castro said at first some volunteers don't think much of it, some students just come for a class credit but when they leave, “After going all the way, walking more than a mile after hearing some of the stories that I have witnessed at the Mexican border. How many have died, how they have been brought across the border died, they come here and after this action, they change their conscious, they expand their conscious,” explained Castro.

The non-profit organization Gente Unida has water drop-offs once a month.

To find more information on how you can attend one of these water drop off visit:

Article Topic Follows: Special Reports

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Karina Bazarte

Karina Bazarte joined the KYMA team as a reporter in September 2022.
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