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INS Statement

Joint Statement Tucson Binational Meeting
Tucson, Arizona
June 15, 2001

In accordance with agreements reached at high-level meetings relating to border safety that occurred in San Antonio, Texas on June 6, a meeting took place today in Tucson, Arizona involving representatives from the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service, the United States Border Patrol, Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Grupo BETA, Procuraduria General de la Republica (PGR), and the four Mexican Consuls in Arizona. The objective of the meeting in Tucson was to reaffirm the binational commitment to promote public safety along the border and to discuss additional measures each nation might take to achieve that goal.

During the day’s talks, representatives from both countries openly discussed the nature of the risks faced by prospective migrants along the border in Arizona. Those dangers range from the climatic extremes of the state’s western deserts in the summer months to the brutality perpetrated by migrant smugglers.

Of particular concern to both delegations is the area of the Sonoran desert located west of Nogales and east of Yuma, Arizona. Because of the extreme dangers in this area during the summer months, the group agreed to designate it as a “high risk zone” and undertake a more proactive, binational effort to reduce the loss of life when conditions become dangerous. Those conditions will trigger a humanitarian deployment of personnel and equipment on both sides of the border.

The delegations agreed to initiate expanded surveillance during high-risk periods. In addition, the participants committed to a number of other joint safety measures, including:

  • A joint mapping project of the high-risk areas to improve rescue coordination and response;
  • An expanded binational public information and outreach effort on the dangers associated with crossing in the high-risk areas.

The delegations recognized the need for improved coordination during joint rescue operations. The group called for the development of a model that will institutionalize the appropriate binational response to reported critical incidents along the border. As a further enhancement, the participants recommended additional joint training of U.S. and Mexican officers on medical and rescue techniques. Additionally, the delegates suggested the creation of a working group to begin establishing improved communications capabilities in emergency situations.

The delegations acknowledged the major role migrant smugglers play in leading people into this dangerous zone. The participants pledged to share information on these criminal targets and work jointly to ensure that smugglers interdicted in this high-risk zone are subject to the highest scrutiny for possible prosecution.

This meeting is the first of four focusing on the pursuit of a binational effort at creating a safer and more orderly border. Future meetings will be held in California and Texas.