Advocates, authorities warn migrants about danger of crossing Rio Grande

Advocates, authorities warn migrants

EL PASO, Texas - Water from Elephant Butte Lake was released Friday and is expected to fill the Rio Grande by Wednesday, raising concerns about the safety of undocumented immigrants crossing into the U.S.

"Every year, we know that migrants approach the Rio Grande to cross the river," said Dylan Corbett of the Border Hope Institute. 

Corbett said the consequences of the water, no matter how deep, can be dire. 

At a water safety conference on Thursday, El Paso Fire Department officials said people can drown in as little as two inches of water, and become brain-dead in five.  The slow flow of the stream, visible from above, can often times be hiding a chaotic current. 

"There are actually three levels of currents, and they're moving at a really high rate of speed," said Border Patrol spokesman Fidel Baca. "The reason being, because it's meant to be self-cleaning."

Fire officials said the currents always sweep people to the center, the fastest point, pulling you under, making every second count as the Water Rescue Team or Border Patrol agents race to the rescue. 

The water flows from New Mexico into El Paso heading right into danger. 

"The water does not stay in the river," explained Baca. "It is sent to the American Canal, which is used for irrigation. For the El Paso sector, that's going to be the most dangerous part."

That's why emergency officials are taking steps to sent out warning posters to sheets in Juarez, hoping the message spreads to Central America, so migrants don't become statistics. 

"Fiscal year 2018 for the El Paso sector we had 14 rescues and four deaths," said Baca.

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