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Treasure Maps (Not) to Be Issued by Mexican Government

127174-256908-thumbnail.jpg Tuesday 24 January, at a press conference in Mexico City, Mexico's National Commission for Human Rights and Arizona-based Humane Borders, Inc., announced a "joint migrant safety education project." The collaboration, according to the BBC, involved a plan "to issue some 70,000 maps marking main roads and water tanks for people wanting to cross illegally into the US."

Humane Borders was already maintaining "more than 70 emergency water stations on and near the border" in Arizona. The "faith-motivated" organization estimated that "more than 1,000 migrants are known to have died in southern California and Arizona from Oct. 1, 1999, to Aug. 11, 2005." According to Water Station, a group with a similar mission operating out of Escondido, California, "more than 20 immigrants and Americans" were dying of heat exposure each year just in the El Centro border region of California.

Russ Knock, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said that the maps would "lead aliens into the desolate and dangerous areas along the border, and potentially invite criminal activity, human exploitation and personal risk." Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice had just days earlier unveiled plans to "incorporate 21st century technology and innovation" in order to strike a delicate balance between tightening security at the borders and "keeping the welcome mat out for those who want to come from overseas."

No mention of the maps project was found on the official website of Mexico's Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos.

Dr. Robin Hoover, Ph.D, pastor of First Christian Church in Tucson and president of Humane Borders, had earlier noted that it was not only Mexicans who were crossing into the U.S. from Mexico; perhaps as many as two percent were coming from elsewhere, he said: "There's people from Yemen, the people from Brazil, Saudi Arabia." In February of 2003 an individual from Afghanistan was reported to have been taken into custody by U.S. Border Patrol agents after having been smuggled illegally into Arizona by two Mexican nationals. The man was said to have sought protection by Tuscon police officers from these same smugglers. "One need not leap automatically to think this is a terrorist incident," said Hoover to a local television news reporter.

Traffic was heavy that Wednesday morning on the Humane Borders website, but downloads had begun in order that we might offer here .pdf versions of said maps (as well as copies of Spanish-language warning posters distributed by the organization: "Don't Go! There's Not Enough Water! It's Not Worth It!").

Meanwhile, here is a cell tower overlay map for the years 2000-2004 (html/.pdf), showing where "deaths occured, along with the location of... water stations, U.S. Border Patrol emergency beacons, and the extent of cell phone coverage in the region." Note: this map takes a very long time to download, but it's pretty cool to look at. It is next to worthless for on-the-ground navigation.

Posted on 25 January, 2006 by Registered Commentergroundskeeper | CommentsPost a Comment

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