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      Immigrants deaths, rescues increasing

      The Border Patrol began tracking immigrants deaths in 2000 and the data shows an ever increasing number of deaths, but thankfully rescues are up as well.

      Despite an increase in agents, U.S. Border Patrol Rio Grande Valley Sector Chief Rosendo Hinojosa said the sector has seen a large increase in the number of deaths over the past few years.

      We are disappointed that we have these deaths but we are doing what we can with additional patrols, with rescue beacons, to prevent fatalities and injuries, Hinojosa said.

      In fiscal year 2012 the RGV sector had 140 deaths, more than a 100 percent increase from 2011.

      The majority of those people are found near the checkpoints.

      Rescues were also up 26 percent, with more than 300 rescues last year.

      The past two and a half months indicate this next year, the trend will continue.

      So far this year, fiscal year 2013; we TMve had over 40 deaths, a 250 percent increase from the previous year and 130 rescues, a 190 percent increase, Hinojosa said.

      The vast majority are coming from Mxico and Central America.

      The economic crisis that we have seen this last year has not only influenced Guatemalan citizens but citizens across Central America have seen the necessity to come to the United States, the country they see as the country of their dreams, Guatemalan consul Alba Caceres.

      Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino said a good number of those deaths occur before immigrants even cross.

      People actually trying to enter into the country drown in the Rio Grande, Trevino said.

      Law enforcement agencies stress smugglers are not to be trusted.

      They don TMt look at these individuals as humans, but cargo, a quick dollar, Hinojosa said. All they are worried about it getting away.

      Reported assaults by smugglers are also up.

      Hidalgo County sees about 15 violent crimes a year between smugglers and immigrants.

      I don TMt care who you are, you are on Texas soil in the United States and you have every right and we will treat you like we treat everyone else, Trevino said.

      The Guatemala consulate is also trying to warn their citizens to trust U.S. officials.

      Generally we view authorities as the enemy. We are educating our people the authorities are not our enemies, Caceres said.

      If you see any suspicious activity you are encouraged to call the Border Patrol office at 1-800-863-9382.

      You might save a life.