WELLTON, Ariz. - According to the Yuma Sector Border Patrol, during 2017 fiscal year agents apprehended 12,000 undocumented immigrants at the port of entry. That number has more than doubled in the last year to 26,000 apprehensions.
Border Patrol Agent Jose Garibay said that the vast majority of people coming are from countries like Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and even from India.
"Individuals who cross through the area usually walk for days and sometimes up to a week depending what part they cross through the port of entry and their destination," said Garibay.
Garibay also said there has also been an increase in people seeking asylum, adding that just last week agents caught a group of about 100 people in San Luis.
"The ones that we have seen are families and young people that are accompanied alone, and then we have individuals that are seeking asylum," said Garibay.
Agents said that crossing through the Sonoran desert can be very dangerous, which is why they implemented the rescue beacons after an incident in the early 2000's when a car was holding 20 immigrants ran out of gas, and 14 out of those 20 died in the desert.
The Yuma Sector Border Patrol has about 25 rescue beacons around the Yuma Sector area.
This helps with the number of apprehensions, along with families who are crossing through U.S.- Mexico border and for those individuals who cross through the Sonoran desert and find themselves dehydrated or in need of assistance.
When a person is found in distress they can press a red button that will send a signal to the Yuma Sector Communications Center for agents to come to rescue them.
"We want to make sure that even though these people cross unlawfully in between the ports of entry, we don't want to see anyone die out here for whatever reason that they are crossing," said Garibay.