Samaritan group patrolling desert to offer help to illegal imm

Saturday, July 27, 2002

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Frustrated at the mounting deaths of illegal immigrants in the searing Arizona desert, a group of activists has begun patrolling to offer water, food and medical assistance.

At least 91 people have died since October in the U.S. Border Patrol's Tucson sector covering most of southern Arizona. More than half of those deaths have been heat-related.

"It has been a real challenge to figure out how to be most effective in the desert," said Kittie Ufford-Chase, a volunteer with the Samaritan Patrol. "This has been a needle-in-a-haystack proposition. It's huge out there."

Fewer than a dozen migrants were found in the first three weeks that members patrolled desert roads in four-wheel-drive vehicles.

Critics like Wes Bramhall, head of Arizonans for Immigration Control, insist that the Samaritan Patrol violates federal law by aiding migrants trying to cross the border from Mexico illegally.

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