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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release
May 24, 2001

STATEMENT BY PHILIP T. REEKER, DEPUTY SPOKESMAN

Joint Statement by the Governments of the United States and Mexico on the Deaths of Fourteen Migrants in the Arizona Desert

The United States and Mexico express their deep sadness and concern over the deaths yesterday of fourteen migrants in the Arizona desert near the border with the Mexican state of Sonora. Those who lost their lives were among a group of 28 migrants abandoned by alien smugglers after crossing our shared border. Others of the group, rescued by border authorities, are in critical condition at a Yuma, Arizona, hospital. Search and rescue operations continue in an effort to find other members of the group.

The survivors of this human tragedy are being assisted by the U.S. Border Patrol and Mexican consular officials. Both governments have begun an investigation to identify the smugglers responsible for this tragedy, and pledge close cooperation to find these criminals and bring them to justice.

The governments of the United States and Mexico condemn the actions of smugglers who put the lives of would-be migrants at risk. We are committed to ensuring a safe and orderly border, and both governments reaffirm their commitment to spare no effort in combating the trafficking of migrants along the border.

These tragic deaths highlight the pressing need for our governments to continue their work to reach new agreements on migration and border safety. This process is already underway, under the aegis of a high level working group on migration launched by Presidents Bush and Fox and co-chaired by the Attorney General and Secretary of State, on the U.S. side, and by the Foreign Secretary and Secretary of Government, on the Mexican side. Delegations from both countries will meet again in San Antonio, Texas June 6-8 to discuss specific measures to prevent future occurrences of such tragedies and to promote safe and orderly migration.

The governments of the United States and Mexico express their sympathy and condolences to the victims of this terrible human tragedy and their families.

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