Deadly cross-border training in the ‘high risk zone’ of the US-Mexico border

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From Prodixt in the Sonoran Desert, Arizona, Mercy Kibodeaux, an American employee of the United States government, drives a US Border Patrol SUV towing an armored “de-escalation truck”.

1. Kibodeaux was driving in the dangerous border area in a US Border Patrol SUV as she has been assigned to transport the moving vehicle at all times. Since early February, Kibodeaux has been assigned to move these armoured military vehicles in and out of “high risk zone” in a route between the United States and Mexico.

2. Each armored vehicle travels up to 60 miles per day through the dangerous areas of the border. Kibodeaux has previously driven in the “high risk zone” where numerous people have died and been injured in accidents. The longest part of this trip took four days to complete. Kibodeaux is currently completing this location for her main destination.

3. Also on this route are multiple Customs and Border Protection vehicles including “port surge trailers” that are used as mobile border patrol equipment. These vehicles cost about $300,000 a piece.

4. Kibodeaux must drive in the middle of busy migrant and drug smuggling routes. Over the past decade, the I-10 highway has become a pathway through which many enter the United States illegally. In October 2016 alone, 3,774 people were apprehended in Texas while the US National Border Patrol conducted 4,118 apprehensions on the I-10.

5. In 2015, then-US President Barack Obama stated “we will not engage in open borders” and added that creating a continuous flow of people into the United States “makes our communities less safe”. However in April 2015, the Justice Department announced they are suspending Obama’s crackdown policy on undocumented immigrants.

6. Kibodeaux also drives vehicles in preparation for the situation as well as to prevent it. In 2015, the United States Border Patrol constructed a fence through the Sonoran Desert which runs from Imperial Beach to Phoenix, Arizona. The border fence is hundreds of feet high in some places. The fence “hands off” or disappears as you approach, and has since 2014 protected the area from local non-profit organizations.

7. In the Sonoran Desert, there are numerous areas for smugglers to use and hide. Since the end of 2017, the Sonoran Desert Highway has been open again to the public. Arizona border guards have coordinated with the government to “strip the roads of stop signs” and “highlight the area for the fear of slipping back into Mexico”, according to the Arizona Republic. There have also been major incidents of violence in the area, including the murder of a woman in her van and a shootout with a nearby church.

8. In 2014, the Obama administration deported more than 2 million people during his presidency. The Trump administration has since adopted a more hardline approach and has pledged to deport about half of the illegal immigrant population across the United States.

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